If you read my ABOUT page, you will learn that I am not just an expat and a stay-home mom: I am a qualified professional and I try my best to form my opinions as neutrally as possible in order not to sugar-coat the life here nor to make it sound like China is a horrible place. It is really neither and like everywhere it is a special place with its own tradition, rules, regulations and culture.
When I first got pregnant I came across a lovely lady who was about to leave Beijing and who gave me several books on pregnancy, including Best Friends’ Guide to Pregnancy which I loved. She had also shared with me a list of things I would need to take with me to the hospital which I later modified and elaborated to suit hospitals in Zhuhai.
This list I shared with a few friends and they all agreed that it was quite helpful especially for first time moms and expat moms planning on having a baby in Zhuhai. I guess some of it would be appropriate for local moms, but as I said above – the cultural trends on whole childbearing are at times quite different. So if you are a local mom you will benefit from this post by learning what hospitals here have to offer. If you are an expat mom, besides the former, you will also learn what will be useful to you in the hospital and what you shouldn’t bother preparing.
Note: make sure you have your passport with you and your hospital file!
Before I share the list with you, here’s what local hospitals don’t offer to new moms:
1. There is no well-estahlished breastfeeding support. You will find that while everyone is for breastfeeding, formula industry is intertwined and pushed to hospitals here. So if you plan on breastfeeding, your best shot is BTDT moms, family members and YouTube. You are also welcome to engage my professional services as I am a breastfeeding consultant and a baby massage instructor; and I can teach you the basics of newborn care. For more information please contact me via my email address or via my other website – Zhuhai Family Connections.
2. As I mentioned in Part 1 – you will not be allowed into the NICU ward for as long as the baby is there. There are some visitation hours but you are not allowed to hold your baby or feed him.
3. There is no food service at the hospitals. There are some canteens and restaurants around but usually the food is brought by family. I personally think it has to do with the fact that every family has traditions on what women should eat postpartum. But may be hospitals just don’t want to bother with it.
4. No one will teach you how to swaddle the baby. So you have to ask someone to show you or watch some videos online and practice on a doll.
5. No one will teach you how to bathe or massage your baby. Well, they might show you how to bathe the baby but they won’t let you try under their supervision.
6. No one will bother with the car seat. So get your own if you feel like having one.
As I get more feedback from fellow expats I’ll be adding and editing.
Now, here’s that list you’ve been waiting to read.
Things for Mommy:
1. Hospital clothes. If you are of a small or medium size, you don’t need to bother with special clothes for hospital as they have pajamas they give you to wear. If you are of a large size and above, you might want to bring your own clothes to wear. Don’t bring anything fancy as it will get stained in all possible ways.
2. Hospitals provide with maternity sanitary pads and while some of them are super comfortable especially for women after c-section, some are not and are incredibly hard to change or wear. So do your homework and bring your own. Plus you’ll save some money on that!
3. Hospital doesn’t offer any soap or other personal hygiene items. Tooth paste, tooth brush, soap, body wash, sponges, shampoo, towels – all should be yours. Note: it is not customary here to shower after having a baby for some days (just sponge baths), so you might be told you can’t do it. I personally wouldn’t recommend making your c-section scar wet for about a week so it has time to close over better. But go with what is usually done back home!
4. Cooling/heating pad. You won’t get ice to put on your scars or sore areas.
5. Important: phone charger! You do want to be in touch with the rest of the world.
6. Painkillers. You are given a gelatinous IV that slowly melts for pain. But it is not enough for some. So you can consult with a pharmacist back home and bring your own painkiller with you. Just to get something as simple as paracetamol requires doctor’s prescription there and you might end up waiting for a while as there are just too many people and few doctors!
7. Lanolin cream if you plan on breastfeeding. I found Medela has the best type and it can be purchased in Macau or Hong Kong in baby shops.
8. Nursing pillow is good but not a must. However it does help a lot if you had a surgery and plan on breastfeeding.
9. Slippers. Because you won’t get any at the hospital.
10. Cups and cutlery.
11. Toilet paper. Yes, don’t be surprised – they often run out or don’t even have any!
12. Nursing bras or comfortable cotton bras if you won’t breastfeed + nursing pads. Whether you breastfeed or not , milk will come in and it might start leaking, more for some than for others.
13. Comfortable old underwear that you can throw away or disposable underwear. I don’t need to tell you why. The type we call “grannie’s panties” will be your best friends for at least a month.
14. Load your phone/mp3 player/ iPad with favorite music. It will help you relax when they baby is sleeping and you can’t no matter what everyone says about sleeping when the baby sleeps.
Things for baby:
1. Unless you want to take fancy pictures of your baby there is no need to bring clothes to wear at the hospital – they will give clothes and blankets for the baby which you give back when discharged.
2. If you want to use your own clothes for the baby don’t bother with too many: onsies and swaddling blankets will be enough. Plus baby hats and socks. You will probably need onsies 2-3 per day.
3. Going home outfit.
4. Diapers and wipes. They will give them to you at the hospital but they will also charge. Plus if you want to cloth diaper, you will definitely need your own. Here’s a little secret: babies “go” quite often. Some babies don’t. But majority do. So your big expense will be diapers – choose your brands and deals wisely!
5. Pacifier/binky if you plan on using one. Hospital will not give you one nor introduce it.
6. Burping towels/cloth. Bring many! I had at least 10. Regular small towels would do.
7. Diaper cream or just plain Vaseline (Petroleum Jelly). Plain Vaseline worked the best for us as it is truly hypo-allergenic and it prevents moisture and newborn’s poop from irritating very sensitive baby’s skin.
8. If you plan on formula feeding, I suggest bringing your own formula and gear. While hospital formula is fine, you will later give another type to your baby and he may not accept it. Plus, formula at the hospital is expensive and distributed by their own schedule. You can wash the bottles right there and have your own electric steriliser handy.
Few words for dads: bring yourself a pillow and a blanket, and changes of clothes plus whatever else you need. Even in Super VIP room there is only 1 pillow and 1 blanket for moms!
Well, that’s about it. If you have more suggestions based on your experiences – let me know!