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Having a Baby in China
The Basics
This page is primarily intended for those couples who are not native Chinese citizens.

It is geared towards one person being a full Chinese National, and the other a foreigner.

Chinese holding a foreign passport are also included, such as ABC's, BBC's and CBC's (American, British and Canadian - Born Chinese). This information is also valid if both parents are foreigners living or working in China.


1. A full range of childbirth related services are readily available in any Hospital in China. These include: delivery and immediate aftercare, plus pre natal and post natal consultations (if you ask and pay for them separately).

2. Special "Women's hospitals" are also common in cities, and offer a full range of modern support services and their Chinese medicine equivalents.

3. You will have to pay for this, either in cash or via medical insurance. Expect childbirth to cost Y3, 000 which you will pay up-front and before delivery. Ours cost half this, and we received the change before discharge.

4. The minimum stay in hospital is three full days. This will be extended if their is the slightest concern for either newborn or mother. Both will be expected to stay in hospital until the problem is rectified or identified.

5. Men are not allowed anywhere near the delivery room - and I got chased out with a broom when I tried!

6. Post delivery - and you personally wheel your wife or newborn to the afterbirth corridor, which contains many small rooms with maximum occupancy of 3 beds in each + a separate toilet without shower, but with many taps. Our room also had cable TV installed + several chairs for guests, tables, bedside units, and another unit for storing personal belongings. It may be different in another hospital, I do not know. However, there does not appear to be a general 'Ward' as such. The Father and perhaps a close friend for translations, will be expected to stay and look after the immediate needs of wife and baby.

On the second night we found out that rather than doze in an uncomfortable chair, we could for a paltry sum have an extra camp bed added to the room for my use (Nighttimes only). The standard size costs Y8 (say $1) per night, but I am a big man, so had a different version of 3/4 size for Y15. There are odd and occasional charges like cleaning or similar = Y30 for the duration of stay.

Basic food is available at mealtimes from a trolley in the corridor outside - which you have to walk to as there appears to be no delivery service to bedside; and is of high nutritional value, and little appeal. My dear friend Paul Yuan brought in all my wife's food during her stay. There will be a Thermos flask of boiled water by the bed, and this can be refilled in a room set aside for the purpose in the corridor outside. You will need to do this yourself.

You will be thinking this a tad strange already? Well, on the other side, the hospital provides free of charge: 1 x plastic bowl (16 inches across, by 8 inches high), a bar of carbolic soap, a mini-duvet which the baby is wrapped in immediately after being born, a small hand towel. There were a few other incidentals also. These are all yours to keep, or you can return them as you wish.

Note: The hospital will not provide nappies (Diapers) or baby clothes - this is up to you to arrange!

7. Visiting Hours.
Generally there are no official hours and people can come and go 24/7. There are certain times each morning when all men are asked to leave the room for say 20 minutes.This is around 9 to 10 am, and just after Doctors Rounds = quite a civilised time of day.

8. The service offered is excellent and available 24 / 7 / 365. Keep any paperwork you are given safe, as you will need to show some of these pieces of paper at a later date.

9. Birth Certificate Issue
The Doctor in charge will issue the Birth Certificate, which you must keep safe. You will need this later to register the birth officially!
Note: The Birth Certificate will be issued about 40 days after the first working day, after your child's birth.
Birth Certificate Issue
1. Return to the Hospital were the child was born. The Doctor will probably be available Monday to Saturday between 8am and Midday, and between 2pm and 6pm.
2. For mixed race couples, allow at least 1-hour for the Certificate to be issued. Therefore you need to arrive before 11am or 5pm respectively.
3. Either parent can obtain the Certificate. Do not expect staff to be proficient in English language.
4. Documents required:
  • Your Passport
  • Your partner's Identity Card
  • The Family Book (Hu Kou Bu) to which the baby will be added.
  • Your Chinese address in Chinese characters
  • All relevant pieces of paper given you before discharge after the birth
  • The Child's name?
5. There is no charge for the Birth Certificate (You already paid for this).
6. Very Important!
    • Whilst the Birth Certificate combines both Chinese and English languages on the same form, the space allowed for the baby's name and Parents names is not sufficient for most English names in full. You may have to shorten yours in some way? However, pay particular attention to that of your baby. By using a double line entry (Not normal practice) you can have up to 17 and possibly 20 characters (Includes spaces between names). You will want to ensure that 2 of the names are complete on one line of the form. For instance: You can have the name in a mixture of both languages!
7. Sample of a real Chinese Birth Certificate here

The actual process is quite straight forward, although it requires much checking and double checking. Before issue you will be given a print preview that you should thoroughly check. Once printed, this original document cannot be altered. It will be presented to you in a special plastic wallet for safe-keeping.

10. Vaccinations.
a. Within one month of childbirth, you should register your baby for a vaccination program with any chosen hospital. This does not have to be the hospital they were born in. The hospital does not have to be in the same City District region.

b. Either parent can do this, and it is usually done before the Birth Certificate is issued. You will need to go to a specialised department within the Maternity and Aftercare department - so do not join any of the long queues in the foyer, simply ask for directions.

c. The process of registration for the vaccination program takes about 2 minutes, and you will need the following:
• Baby information and documents pack, which was given to you when being discharged from childbirth hospital.
• Either parent's Name and child's name (Either in English or Chinese, but no other languages - at least in Guangdong Province).
• Address in Chinese Only. Contact telephone numbers - if you do this yourself, then add a second one for your spouse or someone who speaks both languages.
• I was not asked to provide any identification, such as passport etc, which is unusual in China. However, you should do so just in case your circumstances are different from my own. You may also wish to take your marriage books as a precaution, and also know how to write your spouse's name in Chinese - or show the marriage book as in my own case.

d. You will be issued with a vaccination booklet, and attached to the first usable page will be the vaccination schedule for that particular hospital. This means that on the dates specified you should take the baby to the place that issued the booklet, for the jab to be administered.

e. There are about 25 scheduled appointments spanning the next 5 years or so. 75% of these are free = all the very important ones. The others have associated charges ranging from Y40 to Y168. Not a lot of money - and these are optional. The charge is indicated in the booklet, but the details are only in Chinese of course.
Note: I am given to understand the 3-in-1 MMR injection for Measles, Mumps and Rubella is not standard practice in China - but please check this information yourself if this issue is important to you personally.

Useful Advice:

11. Insurance
does exist in China, and can be obtained locally at a fraction of the cost as compared to oversea's providers (For use in China = they are making a fortune out of these people!). In China full insurance covering: Medical, Accident, Pension, etc = as in the UK - will cost between Y300 and Y500 per month. There are also family packages as you would expect. These run for 15 years, after which time you remain completely covered, but no longer have to pay a monthly premium. I think the pension element normally begins at age 60, but please check yourself. Now is a very good time to buy, as I am sure this will change radically over the coming years!

Note: A dedicated page regards Assurance available in China is in the pipeline, and should be available later in 2010 (Sorry, this is very technical stuff normal translators cannot cope with).

12. Location.
Decide well in advance where the baby will be born, it matters a great deal later.

13. If you want to ease the decision concerning your baby's nationality, we advise giving birth in Hong Kong (But it will cost appropriately more in cash + restrictions apply to Chinese National mothers).

14. These are facts: as my wife gave birth to our baby on Christmas Eve 2009. She is Chinese and I am British - Missive: 'The Christmas Present' refers our actual experiences at first hand.

15. Babies not for you? Abortion is legal in China and encouraged to some extent. However, as a direct effect of the 'One-Child Policy', you will not be given the sex of the embryo before an abortion.

Abortion is quick and simple (I think they use the micro-surgery technique). It is over within minutes of your pre-arranged appointment, and just like a coffee break with friends, you should be back at work the next day with no ill effects.

16. When you have the baby, Chinese friends and family will be there to support you enormously. Expect your Chinese wife's mother to take control; and either live with you for a month, or you live with them! If you are a foreigner with a Chinese husband, then expect his Mother to take over your life!

17. A new baby is the most precious thing to any Chinese family, so appreciate their support and concern (Even if you don't want it. I was very grateful for their support as it happens).

I have deliberately kept this page as brief as possible in order to present you with the important facts only. Please contact us for more advice if you need further personal guidance.
Related Pages:
Registering a Birth
- A lot to consider here for mixed-race couples!
Missive: 'The Christmas Present' refers our personal experiences of childbirth in China.

Check back later for more pertinent information

I have left this space to add things such as:

Educational options

Baby in a Global and multicultural World

but mostly,

For my Daughter Rhiannon to tell her own story...

This information is as supplied by ourselves, and ably supported by our friends and various internet portals.
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