When an expat couple is thinking of starting a family and especially when they find out that they are pregnant, one of the questions they often ask is, “Should we have our baby here in Shanghai or would it be safer to have the delivery back home?”
Of course there are many advantages to having the baby in Shanghai, especially if the family is well settled. Returning home will mean that the family is broken up for several months and there will be further readjustment when mom and baby return to Shanghai.
However, expecting moms are also worried about giving birth here in Shanghai. This is more than understandable as Shanghai is not “home” and there are many unknowns. Some of the concerns which I often hear, I’ll discuss below. (I work for ParkwayHealth and will be describing what I’m most familiar with. Obviously there will be differences from place to place).
At ParkwayHealth, the majority of OB/GYN physicians are expat physicians providing western standards of prenatal care, labor and delivery and postpartum care along with all areas of gynecological care and surgery. Currently, we have two American board certified OB/GYN physicians and one French OB/GYN physician starting in June 2008. With our extensive experience in the field, our goal is to provide a high standard care and to minimize any risks during one’s pregnancy, to be able to identify any upcoming problems with the mother and the baby, and to make the journey a safe and pleasant one.
We provide many genetic screening tests, including early genetic testing for chromosomal abnormalities. We also perform amniocentesis when it is needed. Our ultrasound doctors, both from US and china, are specialized and certified in prenatal diagnosis/fetal echocardiogram. Of course we also provide counseling and actively discuss options with parents both before the tests and after the results come back.
All of us are well qualified in taking care of high risk pregnancies, such as advanced maternal age, diabetes, high blood pressure, thyroid dysfunction, toxemia, twin pregnancies, placental problems, vaginal birth after C-Section (VBAC). In the event that there is an unusual circumstance and we feel that the pregnancy could be better handled elsewhere, we will certainly not hesitate to advise the patient that this is the case.
Something which is important no matter where you give birth is that you should feel comfortable with your doctor. You should feel that you are always able to discuss with your doctor any questions and concerns that you might have.
We have 3 highly qualified neonatologists working 24/7 attending ALL deliveries to ensure the newborn safety. Our midwives, expat perinatal and neonatal educators along with lactation consultant will help with the baby care and breast feeding. Our expat pediatricians will attend daily rounds discussing your baby’s care in addition to your baby’s vaccination schedule while in hospital.
In the case of a problem with the newborn, our neonatologists will stabilize the situation on site. Occasionally cases will need prolonged observation in our baby unit with one-on-one care. We also have a close relationship with the Shanghai Children’s Hospital neonatal intensive unit (NICU) team working with us in our facility for intensive care in a few special cases.
There are pregnancies complicated and threatened with extremely premature deliveries. In my opinion, Shanghai is not a good place for premature deliveries younger than 28-30 weeks for many reasons. Should this happen, it is very important for the doctors to identify the problems, stabilize the situation and make quick decision transferring the mom to places like Hong Kong or Singapore where better neonatal intensive care can be provided.
Giving birth is one of life’s most rewarding events and we encourage the involvement of the family. We welcome the husband’s involvement all through the process and to be present at all deliveries including c-sections. We encourage natural, non-interventional labor and delivery. Any intervention will be well discussed ahead of time with the mom and dad. In addition, we provide pain relief including epidural anesthesia. Our anesthesiologists are all well trained in performing epidural. Coming from the US, I am very impressed with their techniques. The anesthesiologists are in house 24/7.
Overall, there is every reason to expect a standard of care and delivery that is at least as good as what one would receive “back home”. As already mentioned, the fact that the family can remain together is another big advantage of staying in Shanghai for the delivery (and not having to face a long flight back here with a new infant must also be a plus!)
Furthermore there is also growing support from within the expat community with groups like ShanghaiMamas, International Mothers Support Group (IMSG), Bumps to Babes and La Leche League just to name a few. Our perinatal educator, Tracy Claxton has a website (www.tlcbirthresources.com) with lots of good articles from labor resources to newborn resources as well as helpful information for moms living in Shanghai. There are also several prenatal classes offered for moms and dads to be to help them prepare for their newest arrival.
For these reasons, more and more mothers are choosing to have their children delivered here in Shanghai.