Having a Baby in Hong Kong as an Expat
|Published:||25 Feb at 11 AM|
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Local Expert Series: Having a baby in HK by Nicole Webb
Almost three years ago this month my husband and I were in Positano, Italy having the time of our lives (single lives that is).
I can still remember sitting in one of the world's most beautiful spots sipping crisp white wine, dining on fresh seafood overlooking a glorious blue ocean -- saying to each other, "you know this could very well be the calm before the storm?"
A week later we were back to reality with a giant thud and a week after that the storm blew in.
My husband got the call….how do you fancy living in Hong Kong? Gulp.
That very same week, the pregnancy we'd excitedly hoped for was confirmed. Even bigger gulp!
One of my initial fears (knowing absolutely nothing about Hong Kong) was "Help a baby in Hong Kong? Is that safe? Is that even possible?"
It was also the first thing a lot of people said to me when I told them about our double whammy!
You're not having the baby in Hong Kong are you? You will be coming back to Australia? (Striking the fear of god into me no less.)
With my husband arriving in the Fragrant Harbour city before me I had him frantically scouring all possibilities for us. What's it like? Doctors? Technology? Hospitals? Cost? Safety?
I needn't have worried, Hong Kong is a brilliant place to give birth.
Thousands of expats before me have done it and no doubt thousands after me will.
If you're pregnant and moving to Hong Kong, rest assured, I've surveyed the savviest of Hong Kong mums for you and here's the lowdown:
There are plenty of reputable obstetricians in Hong Kong. Naturally everyone has their own preferences on what they like and want in a doctor, so here's a list of those that mums have used and highly recommend.
(Tip: Many obstetricians will be exclusive to one or two hospitals so you may need to go to the hospital of their choice.)
*Dr Arabinda Ghosh:
Dr Ghosh is one of Hong Kong's most sought after obstetricans/gynaeocologists. He works out of the Matilda Hospital.
The downside - he's in such hot demand, you can wait up to an hour or longer to see him, even with pre-booked appointments.
"..Have been very happy with Dr Ghosh. Was spending a lot of time in NZ with my terminally ill mother during first and second trimesters and felt he dealt with that whole situation sensitively and was very supportive."
"I too used Dr Ghosh, he was excellent, I had twins, a complication with one while in the womb (not growing and lung issue) and he dealt with it very well..."
(My tip: Dr Ghosh was my OB, he's been practicing for many years, has a matter of fact manner with a gentle touch. In any emergency, he's the man you want at your side. Quite simply, he knows his stuff.)
Tel: (852) 2877 3118
*Dr. Alex Doo:
Highly recommended. Known for giving a balanced view. Competent. Firm.
Downside: Can be a long waiting time. (If you're a working mum I'm told you should book either the first appointment in the morning or the first after lunch hour means much less waiting time!)
"What won hubby over was his calm demeanour and control of the situation when we realised that I had to have an emergency c-section. I was in la-la land due to the epidural, but hubby was super impressed."
"We appreciated his honesty and ability to present the advantages/disadvantages of different matters. Always balanced and was not shy of putting forward his own views and reasons for them, if asked,
in a very non-pressurised manner."
Tel 852 2523 3007
The Womens' Clinic
*Dr. Grace Cheung:
"Dr. Cheung is the perfect combination of knowledge, humor and bedside manner, making her a great alternative to practice partner Lucy Lord. She gives her patients extremely personalized care, making you feel well looked after and confident. "
Central Health Medical Practice
3/F Baskerville House, 13 Duddell Street, Central, Hong Kong
Tel: (852) 2824 0822
*Dr Lucy Lord:
Highly recommended. Known for her no-nonsense approach, mums appreciate her straight to the point expertise.
"I wanted a normal delivery and her stats were the best in that regard. "Had a successful VBAC with Lucy Lord @ Matilda. To be honest, I dont think Lucy did anything to make the VBAC possible aside from allowing me to go well over my due date."
"We had ours with Lucy Lord at the Matilda, which was excellent and highly recommend both, could not speak more highly of them. Lucy delivered my baby wearing three strands of pearls :-) and Matilda was like a 5-star hotel, staff were awesome, my scar from the c-section is virtually invisible, and only disappointment was having to check out of the hospital."
Central Health Medical Practice
3/F, Baskerville House, 13 Duddell Street, Central, Hong Kong
Tel: (852) 2824 0822
*Dr Patrick Chan:
Highly recommended: Fabulous obstetrician but very hard to get into.
"I have seen Dr Patrick Chan for IVF for last few years and cannot praise enough about his bed side manners and knowledge with up to date fertility treatments."
Suite 501, Tak Shing House, 20 Des Voeux Road, Central, Hong Kong
Tel: (852) 2522 2500
There are also plenty of reputable hospitals in Hong Kong.
The decision to go private or public is yours…but often obstetricians are linked to particular hospitals which may dictate where you end up.
(Mum's Tip "Informally, some obstetricians also seem to have "priority" placements at some hospitals - ie., if you are Head of Obstetrics, then your patients will most likely have a place..")
Matilda International Hospital
The Peak, HK
I had a Caesarean birth at the Matilda and can highly recommend it. There is a waiting list so it pays to put your name down with a deposit early.
The midwives are knowledgeable, friendly and helpful although admittedly they were inundated with deliveries the first day I was there and staff numbers were limited.
As with many hospitals, there were conflicting views on breastfeeding.
While it's not all about the decor, many say the Matilda feels more like a hotel than a hospital and the food (as far as hospital food goes) is fantastic, which is an added bonus. There's no limit on visiting hours.
Hong Kong Mums say:
"The private room was a great experience for a first baby as I wanted for nothing, my partner could stay the night each night, and I had complete privacy to fumble through those first moments and get rest when I needed it. However, for a second baby, without full maternity coverage I'd recommend a shared room to save on funds, as the private room almost doubled the total cost. But in terms of staff, care, advice, breastfeeding help, food and comfort, I'd thoroughly recommend the Matilda."
"First bub was 4kgs born at Matilda, Matilda midwives amazing. They offer a private pediatrician, breast feeding support, postnatal physio and the food there is a pretty special extra! Didnt want to leave…"
"I had my first baby in the Matilda, but stayed in the quad room, shared with 3 other new mums. This I would NOT recommend as I was unable to get any rest as all the babies were roomed with their mums, and there was crying and struggles all day and night. And we still paid exorbitant fees. This time I am trying the Canossa which should have a brand new maternity ward completed in April or so."
"Very expensive, so if you aren't fully covered, I'd suggest weighing up the costs carefully. The private room was a great experience for a first baby as I wanted for nothing, my partner could stay the night each night, and I had complete privacy to fumble through those first moments and get rest when I needed it. However, for a second baby, without full maternity coverage I'd recommend a shared room to save on funds, as the private room almost doubled the total cost. But in terms of staff, care, advice, breastfeeding help, food and comfort, I'd thoroughly recommend the Matilda."
You can find them here: www.matilda.org
Hong Kong Sanitorium & Hospital
Happy Valley, HK
"Too notch hospital with all new facilities. Delivery ward area just reopened about three years ago. Nurses can be a but pushy at delivery but overall everyone was great. ………. the hospital is like a hotel as well. The are also overall pretty efficient."
You can find them here: www.hksh.com
The Adventist Hospital
(had)… emergency c-section at the Adventist (baby was 8 days late and induction was sooo not going anywhere). Vegetarian food only tho...however didn't taste too bad - and generous portions. Nurses a bit grumpy. Not much or any breastfeeding support."
You can find them here: www.hkah.org.hk
NB: Private hospitals in Hong Kong are not cheap so you'll need to check out the type of medical insurance you have to determine the overall cost. Naturally the price varies depending on the type of room you want (shared or private) as will the way you give birth (naturally or a caesarian and the types of drugs used).
The Queen Mary
Pok Ful Lam, HK Island
With a special care baby unit, if your baby is born prematurely or has any health issues this is where you are most likely to end up no matter what hospital you are at.
Most mum's speak positively about their experiences here although there are strict visiting hours.
"If there are complications then QM- their neonatal ward is considered the best in Asia - and that's reassuring. The disadvantages- the QM is rather clinical and conservative in how much information they give you- unless they are certain they won't offer information."
"I gave birth in Queen Mary and don't have a bad word to say about it. They may not coddle you but if you want just good care and straightforward attitudes this is what you'll get."
In the public system a prenatal visit seems to take 2-3hrs and there is no continuity of care (diff doc each time), but otherwise they are generally ok.
"…..spotless operating facilities....big team of midwives, must bring all your own amenities including maternity pads and diapers."
"I had my baby at the QM and it was hard not having a partner until you arrive on delivery ward( can wait outside but not inside on labour ward) but have to say the staff where wonderful they gave me lots of massages and talked to me in a calming manner…"
You can find them here: www3.ha.org.hk
You can choose to go with a public hospital and still use the private system for your pre-natal checkups.
Home births are possible in Hong Kong. Most mums recommend Hulda Thorey Gardasdottir at Annerley. Email: email@example.com
PRE and POST BIRTH
Annerley maternity and early childhood professionals
In Central, Annerley has maternity and early child professionals including registered midwives. They provide a variety of courses from pre-natal advice like navigating public hospitals to giving birth at home to post-natal help with things like breast feeding, starting solids and general development.
Find them here: www.annerley.com.hk
If you want a great pregnancy workout, Hong Kong has several Pure Yoga fitness centres with great prenatal yoga classes. I waddled along to them doing tree pose until 39 weeks.
If you're new to Hong Kong and pregnant or baby's already here, I can recommend joining a mums group. Why not enjoy your journey through pregnancy with likeminded ladies and make new friends along the way. There are a few options including Geobaby, Annerley Mother & Baby Clinic plus a drop in group for new mum at the Methodist Church.
Have a good laugh about those things only pregnant women can laugh at, cancels, snoring, strange bodily functions and rapidly growing bellies.
For more information read my Sassy Mama article here: http://sassymamahk.com/mums-groups-hong-kong/
You can register your new baby free of charge 42 days after the birth. You can make the appointment by visiting their website: www.gov.hk/birthregistration
You'll need your marriage certificate, Hong Kong ID cards or passports.
What expat mums think about having a baby in Hong Kong:
"…for mothers really wanting a natural birth, they need to state this very clearly to their doctor. Generally, Hong Kong seems to move to C-sections a lot quicker than somewhere like Australia."
"It's expensive, what seemed like an excessive amount of OB visits, high caesarian rate, pressure to book a hospital place or risk missing out, higher costs for everything just because you booked a private room."
"In my experience, that it's a lovely place to have a baby, and is comfortable, friendly and safe. I was one of those people that thought I'd never give birth outside of my home country or away from family, but it really was very painless in Hong Kong and I felt supported and looked after."
"…..One of the biggest problems with the hospitals, in my experience, is the lack of breastfeeding support. …."
"The lack of post natal support was what I found tough about having a baby in Hk. We enlisted the help of Yvonne Heavyside and I think Annerley also offers a sort of health visitor service.."
If you have anything to add about your own experience relating to this article, or perhaps have a question for Nicole please leave her a comment below!
Comments » There are 4 comments
That's great to find this. Such a lot of information, but what about the cost. Do you have any information?
Very useful info and enjoyable read! Many thanks!
Thank you very much for all the information shared. It's very nice to know that we have many good options for giviing birth at Hong Kong. I'm 14 weeks pregnant know and we are moving from Shanghai to Hong Kong at the endo of december. Worm Regards, Cata
A great read and bought me a ease and comfort about giving birth in HK now. Thank you for your time and efforts in putting this together. Wishing you all the best, Howyin