Tuesday, June 6, 2017


My third son was born in 2015 at Kowloon Hospital, Suzhou. Why did I choose to give birth in a Chinese hospital? 

I could say it was because I wanted a genuine experience, but the truth is that the luxurious clinics in Shanghai are deadly expensive and I didn’t want to go bankrupt. I already knew I would have had a C-section, and spending more than 20.000 Euro for the delivery was unthinkable. The Chinese hospital was much more affordable, and so we chose it.

Having a baby in China, for foreigners, is always a matter of money.  If you are a young couple and you are already planning a pregnancy, you can take out maternity insurance (usually not included in the basic plans), but this is also very expensive, and sometimes your employer doesn’t agree to add it in the benefits. We didn’t have a maternity plan, so everything was on us. We did the math and discovered that giving birth in the hospital would cost more or less like buying a return plane ticket for me to go to Italy (and having the baby there) and for my husband and my two elder children to visit me a couple of times. So, we decided I would stay in China. 

What is it like to give birth in China? What are the differences compared to Italy?

The hospital I chose had a VIP section where nurses could speak good English. They translated everything and were kind. They accompanied me as I did all my tests: blood tests, ultrasound – basically all medical test you may need when you are pregnant. The quality of the medical experience was satisfactory, and I didn’t notice any lack of hygiene.

I saw the doctor every month as I did in Italy for my first two children. She measured my belly, asked me about weight, asked me if I was feeling okay. The usual questions. Strangely enough,  nobody EVER visited me inside the place where children come out. And they told me to stop swimming from the 24th week. Moreover, they made me sign a paper in which I declared I didn’t want to take my placenta after the delivery and I agreed to donate it to the hospital. 

I didn’t do the amniocentesis because they offered to run a DNA test, that can determinate if the baby has chromosomic syndromes. All they needed was a blood sample. In Italy, this test is still uncommon and very expensive. 

But when it came to be checked into the hospital, things changed. The room was different as I remembered when we visited the ward: it wasn’t in as good condition as I remembered – and it was rather dirty! And the nurses and doctors barely spoke any English. 

Luckily, that was my third child, and I was feeling relaxed enough not to worry about it. 

I had the chance to practice my Mandarin and learned many useful medical words, so not only did I give birth to my third child, but I also had a crash course in Chinese medical terminology. Lucky me!

And, moreover, while my friends who gave birth in the renowned clinics of Shanghai had a real chef preparing food for them, I could eat (?) some traditional and healthy soup instead.

Chinese soup
Yummy and healthy

Sometimes communication was a problem, me not understanding Mandarin and them not speaking English, so the only way to communicate was through the phone translator. But as you may imagine, automatic translation is not always correct and more than once I burst out laughing in front of them (and their surprised expression made me more and more amused). 
I wasn’t so amused just before the surgery when my body had already been tied to the operating table: what if I couldn't tell them something was wrong? What if I couldn’t explain my feelings? As these thoughts went through my head, I began to feel dizzy and my eye span blackened. I took a deep breath and tried to calm down, I closed my eyes and waited for that awful sensation to dissolve. A few minutes later I was well again. They had taken the baby from my womb, and I listened him crying: the most magical sound a mom can hear from her new-born son. I suddenly felt relaxed: he was healthy.

Postnatal care was also slightly different from the one I had received in Italy. For instance, they pressed my womb a couple of times after the C-section, to make all the blood flow away quickly. It was harrowing, and I hated it! The pros are that they gave me painkillers to bear the pain of the C-section wound (in Italy they never did!).

They didn't wash the baby immediately, but only when he was ready to go back home. And they let him swim a little bit in the warm water like in this picture.

Isn't he cute?

Overall, it was a good experience, and I am thankful everything went well. 


  1. Congratulation on your new baby! i agree as you said most of the private hospitals are in shanghai extremely expensive if you don't have maternity insurance! but you are lucky that you found a nice government hospital! but that is not the common case for many! the great pricing for private international hospitals in Shanghai/ China comes with great responsibility and even greater liability, where if anything goes wrong in government hospital will stay mystery forever and you are the only person blamed (in most cases governments will never make mistake in china :S) here in give you a recent story happened to one of my Chinese colleague: as she was 9 months pregnant the baby was perfectly heathy and she were seeing the doctor each week, and just 2 days after the recent ultrasound she found that the baby is not making any move on the belly! so they rushed to hospital and they were told that the baby is died in belly! and the reason for death is that the baby's neck was straggled by umbilical code (stage and very very rare) so she were admitted to the hospital and few hours later they gave a much strange reason for the baby's death which is baby died of umbilical code blockage. and at the end they took the baby out by pushing the belly!! and this case will stay mystery forever and the only answer you get from hospital is blaming the mother! anyway this is the most biggest problem with the government hospitals! and on the other hand things still can go bad in private international hospitals but they are liable for it and at least you can take them to court. of cause this kind of cases mostly won't happen in first tier cities (SH, Beijing, Hangzhou, Suzhou and so on) but still if let me choose between life and money, i choose to stay alive!! the good thing most Chinese hospital in first tier cities are very good with quality of healthcare and facilities but with the 2nd child polity baby booming its a nightmare to get into that crowed just for a ultra sound or general checkup. anyhow it's a good this you found a nice hospital and everything went well! :)

    1. Yes, you are right. I prayed every day for everything to be fine, otherwise it could be a bigger problem for me than having complications in Italy or in foreign clinics. I was blessed that everything went well!

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  3. Totally off topic (and it is meant as a question and not as a criticism) but I always wondered how you deal with the topic pollution? How did you protect yourself during the pregnancy and how are you doing it with your baby? :) I'm just interested because I might move to Shanghai as well

    1. We have air purifier at home, and when the level is high we stay inside. One should also use a mask when outside (I never did though!)

  4. I have posted comments here two times, but something always seems to go wrong... So let's try a third time. I just wanted to say congratulations to your baby! <3 Must have been an experience to go to through pregnancy and birth in China.

    I plan this for myself too, but planning to wait at least another year. What f rightens me the most is the language barrier... I plan to create a little list of useful words and phrases to study beforehand, haha.

  5. Pregnancy is the development of one or more offspring, known as an embryo or fetus, in a woman's uterus. VaikjuostÄ—