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Choosing Your Hospital for Labour: Private or Public?

PregnancyPost Category - PregnancyPregnancy - Post Category - Doctors & HospitalsDoctors & Hospitals

We debate the pros and cons of going for a public or private hospital

Most people who have had or are expecting children in Hong Kong will say you have two choices when giving birth here: Matilda International Hospital or Queen Mary. While both are great establishments, they are definitely not the only suitable choices available. The HKSAR government owns and operates many excellent public hospitals and there are also other very reputable private facilities.

Before looking into what Hong Kong has to offer hospital-wise, I think it’s important to understand what your specific needs are. Firstly, I recommend that you sit down with your partner and make a list of “non-negotiables” you want no matter what for the duration of your maternity-ward stay. Then, you can proceed with your research: attending hospital tours, educating yourself by talking to an experienced midwife and/or getting the support and valuable information you need from a qualified baby planner. Inevitably, you will ask your friends and acquaintances about their experiences, though it is helpful to remember that, as kind as they can be, they often have biased information to offer and their thoughts/opinions will be based on their own personal needs and wants.

To make things more straightforward, here is an unbiased, factual pros and cons list to help you choose between public and private hospitals when giving birth in Hong Kong.

Public Hospitals

Pros

  • Emergency: In case of a medical emergency, public hospitals are the place to be.
  • C-sections: The C-section rate is lower here than in private hospitals, which is great for women who prefer the natural birth path.
  • Cost: It’s extremely cost-friendly to give birth in a public hospital.
  • Admittance: A public hospital cannot turn you down or away. They have to admit you and provide you with labour room facilities.
  • The food quality promotes weight loss! Got to think positive!

Cons

  • Language Barrier: Most public hospital staff speak only Cantonese and/or Mandarin.
  • No Outside Assistance: Partners are not always allowed to witness the birth, and private midwives are not permitted to enter the delivery room.
  • Not Your Choice: Birth plans are not always respected.
  • You won’t have access to your own OB-GYN.
  • No Privacy: some hospital wards can have up to 10 people per room and some public hospitals are “teaching hospitals” so you can be assisted by students and have students observe your delivery.
  • Lower rate of C-sections: This can be a problem for women who prefer to opt for C-sections.
  • No International Food Options: Only Chinese food is served.
  • Less Support: The ratio of patients to midwife is high so you will receive less personalised support for breastfeeding, nursing, etc.

Private Hospitals

Pros

  • Plenty of support: The ratio of patients per midwife is very low which guarantees the patient a great deal of  personalised support for breastfeeding, nursing, etc.
  • Privacy: Private hospitals offer private, semi-private and shared rooms, with a maximum of four patients per room.
  • Language: English is spoken in all private hospitals.
  • Food: Private hospitals often offer international fare and sometimes even a menu to choose from.
  • OB-GYN: The OB-GYN who followed you throughout your pregnancy will deliver your baby.
  • Nursery: Staff encourage parents to be hands-on and the baby nursery is easy to access.

Cons

  • You have to book your spot and secure it with a down payment as soon as you find out you are pregnant.
  • Your spot is not guaranteed until the day you go into labour and you can be turned away.
  • All the pros of private hospital come with a very high price tag.
  • Costs can increase drastically when faced with an emergency.
  • Food: Having access to international fare and to menus you can freely select from can encourage you to consume too many calories, and the food choices tend not to be very healthy.
  • Emergency: Private hospitals are not well-equipped to handle unexpected and/or unusual medical emergencies; in such cases, patients are transferred to the relevant public hospital.
  • C-sections: There is a higher C-section rate at private hospitals (approximately 50% of all births compared to 25% at public hospitals).

Now that you’ve taken all these criteria into consideration, you can decide which type of hospital you want to go for: private or government-owned. Below is a list of the hospitals in Hong Kong you can choose from, depending where you are based.

Queen mary hospital

Public Hospitals Directory

Queen Mary Hospital
In-house obstetricians, anesthesiologist, and neonatologists are available 24/7.  Antenatal and postnatal checkups and exercise classes are all done at the nearby Tsan Yuk Hospital. A private clinic for delivery at Queen Mary is also available for HKID card holders, given that the patient has a referral letter from a GP or OB-GYN.

Queen Mary Hospital, 102 Pok Fu Lam Road, Hong Kong, 2255 3111, 2255 3838 (Tsan Yuk Hospital) or 2255 5688 (private clinic).

Queen Elizabeth Hospital
As the first hospital in Hong Kong to create the post of “Lactation Specialist” for breastfeeding counselling and classes, Queen Elizabeth is ranked high in baby-friendliness. Additionally, it’s Husband Accompanying Labour (HAL) scheme encourages husbands to stay with wives during delivery and to attend antenatal classes.

Queen Elizabeth Hospital, 30 Gascoigne Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong, 3506-6227.

Prince of Wales Hospital
Popular amongst public hospitals for its maternity care, Prince of Wales has partnered with Chinese University of Hong Kong to offer various prenatal examinations, specifically screening for Down Syndrome, SafeT21, and fetal morphology scans. Here you have the option of booking as a private patient, ensuring your own room at a fraction of the cost of a private hospital.

Prince of Wales Hospital, 30-32 Ngan Shing Street, Sha Tin, New Territories, Hong Kong, 2632 2470.

Princess Margaret Hospital
Princess Margaret serves the Kowloon West Cluster, for those in the Kwai Chung, Lai Chi Kok, Tung Chung, Tsuen Wan and Tsing Yi Districts. Its proximity to the airport also means international visitors can arrive here with ease.

Princess Margaret Hospital, 2-10 Princess Margaret Hospital Road, Lai Chi Kok, Kowloon, Hong Kong, 2990 3892.

Tuen Mun Hospital
With four wards, a 200-strong staff, and approximately 5,500 deliveries per year, the O&G Department at Tuen Mun stays bustling. Apart from an antenatal, postnatal and labour ward, the Yan Oi outpatient clinic conducts prenatal screenings through referrals. Before discharging, post-partum patients may undergo healthcare education covering postnatal self-care, discharge advice and breastfeeding.

Tuen Mun Hospital, 23 Tsing Chung Koon Road, Tuen Mun, New Territories, Hong Kong, 2468 5111 or 2404 3720 (Yan Oi Clinic).  

Private hospital

Private Hospitals Directory

Hong Kong Adventist Hospital
Due to its popularity, booking a deposit months in advance is required. Obstetrics packages encompass normal vaginal deliveries and C-sections, both pre-booked and emergency. Select from standard, semi-private, or deluxe and private singles to accommodate your level of comfort.

Hong Kong Adventist Hospital, 40 Stubbs Road, Hong Kong, 2835 0523.

Tsuen Wan Adventist Hospital
Having received formal accreditation from the Hong Kong College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists since 2000, the Obstetrics Unit at TWAH prides itself on its modernity and range of obstetric, prenatal and postnatal services. A prenatal care package here covers various routine lab tests, ultrasound scans and optional prenatal classes. Normal delivery or C-section packages both include blood screening, postnatal (or post-op for C-section) observations, take-home medication and postnatal classes.

Tsuen Wan Adventist Hospital, 199 Tsuen King Circuit, Tsuen Wan, New Territories, Hong Kong, 2276 7257.

Hong Kong Baptist Hospital
Prenatal and postnatal checkups here are led by midwives, O&G specialists and advanced practice nurses. Prenatal diagnosis services offer Down’s Syndrome screening, high resolution fetal scan, chromosome screenings and fetal DNA chip assessments. Choose from spontaneous birth or elective caesarian birth packages, both allowing your newborn to receive umbilical cord blood sampling and vaccinations.

Hong Kong Baptist Hospital, 222 Waterloo Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong, 2339 7203.

The Matilda International Hospital
Benefits like a one-to-one midwife to client ratio, on-demand epidurals, and a vast multilingual selection of antenatal courses are just some of the many reasons Matilda International can boast its prestige. Apart from a range of natural delivery and C-section packages, you can opt for an anesthesia package for normal deliveries.

The Matilda International Hospital, 41 Mount Kellett Road, The Peak, Hong Kong, 2849 0321.

Hong Kong Sanatorium & Hospital
C-section and normal birth packages are available, incorporating vaccines and vitamin injections for the baby. Choose between private and semi-private rooms to ensure the desired intimacy and comfort level of your labour experience – given that you book way in advance. Staying ahead of the curve in maternity care, a Baby Security System has been implemented to prevent infants from being removed from the Maternity Unit without authorisation.

Hong Kong Sanatorium & Hospital, 2 Village Road, Happy Valley, Hong Kong, 2835 7878.

Canossa Hospital (Caritas)
Facilities here include three labour rooms equipped with resuscitators, as well as separate nurseries for both normal and special care infants. Whether you opt for a normal vaginal delivery or a C-section, obstetrics packages guarantee prenatal, postnatal, and neonatal observation care and treatment. Included under these services are postnatal exercise classes led by qualified physiotherapists, breastfeeding and infant care courses.

Canossa Hospital (Caritas), 1 Old Peak Road, Hong Kong, 2825 2117.

St. Paul’s Hospital
Known for offering one of the most affordable private maternity packages, St. Paul’s Hospital guarantees luxuries that save you money. Each delivery room is equipped with baby’s monitoring and resuscitation system, as well as a bedside terminal system with in-house entertainment.

St. Paul’s Hospital, 2 Eastern Hospital Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, 2830 3755.

Union Hospital
Maternity packages, which are either C-section or spontaneous vaginal delivery, include initial immunisations, newborn hearing screenings and routine cord blood screenings. Choose from standard, twin or private suites, which boast five-star amenities – maximising peace and comfort upon the arrival of your newborn.

Union Hospital, 18 Fu Kin Street, Tai Wai, Sha Tin, New Territories, 2608 3222.

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