Choosing where to give birth is a major decision, our expert gives you the low down giving birth in a public hospital
In Hong Kong, every person with a Hong Kong ID card has the right to use the government hospital maternity services at a minimal cost. The maternal health clinics generally provide adequate services, staff, equipment, and resources to ensure your safety. The facilities are up to standard and the delivery rooms are big and very well equipped. It can be a great experience to give birth in a public hospital but we highly recommend parents educate themselves so they know the politics, preferences and the procedures within each hospital.
Before using the services at a public hospital you will need a referral letter to confirm your pregnancy, so the first step is to visit a doctor or obstetrician to get that letter. The antenatal checkups at the public hospitals are free of charge and they will let you know how often you need checkups, roughly every month initially, then every two weeks. The checkups can take a bit of time, so allow at least 3 hours, but if you are lucky it will take less time. Many of our clients supplement the public system with a private midwife or doctor, which saves time and gives them a chance to get answers to their questions.
Very few of public hospitals offer antenatal classes in English. While some complain that the classes are too basic, they are often still informative and useful and many of our clients choose to supplement them with more comprehensive classes elsewhere. Currently, Tsan Yuk Hospital, which then feeds into Queen Mary hospital, offers English antenatal classes.
Submit a birth plan to someone in charge at the hospital. Be very specific when passing on the information and choose your battles carefully. The birth plan usually outlines how you want your birth to go, for example, you may mention positions during labour, episiotomy expectations, and some parents may want to leave the hospital on the same day while others do not want the baby to be removed from their care at all.
Download our helpful Birth Plan Template here!
It is also helpful to spend some time understanding the procedures when you arrive. Some of the public hospitals will offer a guided tour through the hospital and we highly recommended both parents participate.
In most cases, if you arrive during the early stages of labour, you will be admitted into an open ward where husbands, partners, and doulas are not permitted. It has therefore become a popular practice amongst our clients to hire a midwife to stay with the mother while at home during labour, and then make sure she arrives at the hospital when she is ready to be admitted directly to the delivery room.The delivery rooms are usually spacious, very well equipped and mothers are allowed to be accompanied by one person.
After the baby is born it may be necessary to stay in the hospitals for 2-3 days. Most of the public hospitals will have a 24-hour stay policy and depending on how your birth went, they might suggest you stay for a few more days. However, if your birth was a natural birth and you feel ready to go home, you can check out any time you wish. I always recommend that mothers have a private home visit with a midwife or nurse on the first or second day back home to check up on the health of both the mother and baby.
The public hospitals are a safe and cheap option for anyone giving birth in Hong Kong. And the journey can be supplemented with private care in a way that suits you. My fourth child was born in a public hospital, the staff was lovely, and my stay there was beyond my expectations. Overall, the key to a having a good experience with a public hospital birth is to prepare well, communicate your desires, and stay at home as long as is safe before going into hospital.
Of the public hospitals in Hong Kong, those I recommend considering include:
- Kwong Wah Hospital – 25 Waterloo Road, Kowloon, (852) 3517 5019
- United Christian Hospital – 130 Hip Wo Street, Kwun Tong, Kowloon, (852) 3513 4080
- Queen Elizabeth Hospital – 30 Gascoigne Road, Kowloon, (852) 2958 8438
- Queen Mary Hospital – 102 Pokfulam Road, (852) 2255 4956
And you can find a full the list of HK’s public hospitals and a review of the admission procedures here.
Featured image via Pinterest.