I recently began interviewing moms in Shanghai for an upcoming SEA Courier article on giving birth in China. As my due date approaches, I am more and more interested in other women’s birth stories and can’t help but compare them to my first experience back home in the US. While everyone’s story is unique and special no matter where you are, I love hearing from these amazing moms about their experiences as a patient in a foreign country.
When we went home at Christmas and told our family and friends that we were expecting our second child, almost all of them asked, “well, are you going to come home for the birth?” Honestly, the thought never seriously crossed our minds. I spent our first year in Shanghai casually talking to moms who had given birth here and not one person had anything bad to say about their experience. It’s also a logistical nightmare to move in with my parents for a few months and hope that my constantly traveling husband can join me at the right time for the birth of our child. Not to mention taking my son out of his school and routine for the several weeks/months leading up to the new baby’s arrival. The airlines generally frown on extremely pregnant women doing a long-haul flight, and frankly that isn’t something I’m interested in any way!
What seems to really be embedded in that question is the notion that I am giving birth in a dangerous place or putting my family at risk by giving birth in another country. Despite the west knowing that China is a major world leader, the misconception persists that it’s a backwards country. In China’s major cities, nothing could be further from the truth. While I choose to use “western-style” hospitals, it’s not because I think the care in China isn’t up to standard; rather, it’s because I’m not comfortable with the language barrier and want to visit doctors during my pregnancy that understand my western concerns. It’s not a “better than” situation, just a “different than” one.
This is just one area of life that is questioned by people back home, but it’s a good example of the need for people everywhere to have access to other cultures. We were excited to move to China to give our son the opportunity to see how another country lives, which we quickly learned was not much different than our own in many ways. While rural parts of China may lag behind the big cities in terms of access to healthcare, the same can be said for rural parts of the US and other countries as well. So far, I have received as good or better care in China than my Penn Medicine experience in the greater Philadelphia area. And in a few short months I’ll know how the final act plays out, but I have total confidence that we’ll have a great experience giving birth here in China. Stay tuned for details!