Expecting Expats: Having a Baby in Shanghai

Posted on Oct 20, 2010

by Author by Leah O’Hearn on July 13, 2010

What are the Options for Expats When Choosing a Maternity Hospital?

Once upon a time most expat women would return to their home countries to give birth. That still happens and, for some, it is a good or necessary choice but now there are many options available for expecting expats in Shanghai.

There are a handful of clinics which are geared towards the expatriate population. At these hospitals, you are more likely to find English speaking staff as well as doctors and nurses who trained in Europe, the US, or UK. If you decide to turn to a local Chinese hospital, you will need to be prepared for staff with little or no English and, at times, vast cultural differences, particularly in terms of expectations about privacy and the bedside manner of staff. Reportedly, it is also more likely that you will be encouraged to have a caesarian section, if you choose to deliver at a Chinese hospital.

Another issue to think about is the cost. Many of the international hospitals below have extremely high charges and most of their patients have their expenses covered by their medical insurance (either their own or part of their salary package). Make sure that your health insurance will cover the costs of your pregnancy but, at the same time, be mindful of the fact that some, if not many, hospitals and clinics in this country will not allow direct billing. You will have to pay first (by cash or credit card) and then make a claim from your insurance provider. Some hospitals provide a list of insurers with whom they have direct billing arrangements in place. One of the advantages of choosing a local Chinese hospital is that, in all probability, the cost will be lower. However, it is also less likely that you will be able to pay by direct billing. Make sure you get solid information from the hospital of your choice about your payment options ahead of time.

One of the most important pieces of advice is to ask around. Get word of mouth recommendations from trusted sources for good doctors, not only the ones with the impressive certificates on the office wall but also the doctors who show care, patience, and understanding. Ask around the expat community to ensure you find a hospital with the modern facilities to cope with any problems that may arise.

The first two hospitals have particularly good reputations amongst expats but it may be worthwhile to visit a number of the hospitals below in order to find one with which you are comfortable:

Parkway Health (formerly called World link)
170 Danshui Road, near Xingye Rd, Xintiandi
Phone: +86 (21) 6445 5999

Shanghai United Family Hospital and Clinics
1139 Xian Xia Lu, Changning
市长宁区仙霞路1139号 200336
Phone: +86 (21) 2216-3900

American-Sino OB/GYN
14/F of Huashan Hospital, 12 Wulumuqi Zhong Rd near Changle Rd.
Phone: +86 (21) 6249 3246 or +86 (21) 5288 7240

CWI International Peace Maternity Hospital
910 Hengshan Rd near Huashan Rd
Phone: +86 (21) 6407 0434

Shanghai East International Medical Center
551 South Pudong Road
Phone: +86 (21) 5879 9999

Below is a list of local Chinese hospitals. Changning, in particular, has a good reputation and is famous for the fact that they offer water births. Do note, however, that it is notoriously difficult to secure a place at this hospital. You must register in the first 40 days of your pregnancy and there will probably be a line out the door as you wait to do so:

Shanghai Changning Maternity & Infant Health Hospital
773 Yi Wu Lu, Changning District
Phone: +86 (21) 6228 8686

Shanghai Red House Hospital of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Obstetrics and Gynecology Hospital of Fudan University

419 Fang Xie Lu, Huang Pu District
128 Shen Yang Lu, Yang Pu District
Phone: +86 (21) 3318 9900 or +86 (21) 6345 5050

Ruijin Hospital
Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine
197 Rui Jin Er Road, Luwan
Phone: +86 (21) 6437 0045

Shanghai No.1 Maternity and Child Health Hospital
536 Chang Le Lu near North Xiang Yang Lu
Phone: +86 (21) 5403 5206
379 Yao Hua Lu, Pu Dong New Area
Phone: +86 (86) 5883 8888

Here are some extracts from our forums about maternity hospitals in Shanghai:
“I’ve been at Parkway Health for 2 years and it is really expensive (even with my insurance), in my opinion. The care is decent – and so far, I’ve been fine going there for medical needs (though I’ve never had anything really serious). My impression is that they try hard but sometime make mistakes – but I’ve never had a problem correcting it, though it may take a long time.” – posted by bossytoe Wed Sept 8, 2010.

“If you have insurance covered, go for either Shanghai united family or Parkway Health as both of them have received numerous of good reputation. It’s costly but also very safe. Otherwise if insurance is an issue (because the costs can be very expensive), opt for Peace Maternity hospital.” – posted by winliu74 Sat Jul 31, 2010.
“We have had 4 friends have babies in Shanghai United in the last 12 months. All positive stories.

We have also had 2 friends have babies at parkway late last year / early this year with positive feedback as well.

We are going to Shanghai United at the moment and are very happy there… hopefully we’ll come out with he same result too!” – posted by OZDave, Tues Mar 9, 2010.

“I had an excellent experience when I had my baby at Parkway last July. I had Michelle Lu-Ferguson and she was fantastic. The other benefit I found for me personally over Shanghai United (which is also very good) is that Parkway is smaller – only 6 rooms and I felt that it was less of a production line (I’m not very good with hospitals generally and I was fine in parkway). I’ve had several friends who have delivered there recently and they all had a very good experience. Having said that, I’ve had several friends who delivered elsewhere (sino american, shanghai united, shanghai east) and they all had good experiences – the standard of maternity healthcare in any of the expat hospitals is very good. The best thing you can do is visit the places (they will all do a tour for you if you ask) and decide where you feel most comfortable – that is the most important thing – especially for your first baby.” – posted by Hangzhou, Sat Feb 20, 2010.

“I went to Changning and was not impressed at all. The doctors and nurses speak almost no Enlgish, they are very Chinese about the whole thing (i had answers like “We will do it this way because i am the doctor and I know what is the best way”) and the VIP section is a lot more expensive than the regular section and not that much nicer. I think it was around 10,000 RMB for a C-section, not including all the pre-natal check-ups.” – posted by freedelia, Sun Oct 12, 2010.

“I am sorry but my daughter was just born at International Peace Maternity Hospital and it was a complete disaster. The staff is disinterested (they treat new borns and expectant mothers as a job, not as people). Since it is run by the China Welfare Institute, a state-owned enterprise, perhaps this apathy towards individuals is expected. I was appalled by the violence in the delivery room (forcing my wife to have her perineum cut, with a huge chunk missing, and the male doctor pushing hard on my wife’s uterus). Make no mistake, my wife’s labor was going perfectly. However, as it was 2:30 pm, and doctors leave at 5:00 pm, they wanted to hurry things up. That was also the reason why they would not induce labor overnight and instead tried to dope up my wife with narcotics so she would sleep and not disturb other patients. This is a terrible hospital. Avoid at all costs. Pay the extra 10,000 USD for Shanghai United and avoid the trauma and mistreatment of ignorant doctors and nurses.” – posted by kcfun06, Fri Oct 24, 2008.

“I gave birth in Ruijin hospital around 2 years ago. In the Guang Ci hospital (inside ruijin hospital).The doctor is great and speak english,service is good. They have a peadiatric on site.(just next building) and I know they’ve been improve the ob/gyn section, by moving the maternity section to the 3rd floor of the guang ci hospital, and all babies will be rooming in with the mother immediately. And I paid all together for that time around RMB 25.000-27.000. Though now there is a rise in the price.

As for Huashan they are modern, nice hospital,everybody speak good english. They have package 40.000rmb for natural birth and 60.000 rmb for c-section.they have 4D ultra sound, they will take you home with the ambulance. But as for what i know from my friend that gave birth there last year ,they dont have pediatrics section on site. so just in case the baby is small or premature they must transfer the baby to the children hospital .I dont really like the idea to move such a small infant around the city. So this what hapenned to my friends, she stay in huashan for 7 days and the baby was in the other hospital.” – posted by sa-sha, Thu Jun 17, 2004.

For more information, try visiting the following threads in our forums. They are a great place to start:





These websites may be useful to you as well:

http://www.shanghaimamas.org – Shanghai Mamas started as a Yahoo group and has now grown to become quite an active and supportive organization.

http://www.havingababyinchina.com – A very useful website for China generally but their more specific information is at the moment limited to Beijing and Qingdao. This site has an English-to-Chinese pregnancy ‘dictionary’.

http://www.shanghaidoula.com/ – The site is still under construction but you can find contact details there for a doula.