A guide to pregnancy and giving birth in Hong Kong

25 July 2019

Hong Kong – birth and prenatal care 
Hong Kong is renowned for having world-class healthcare services. It acts independently of China’s health system. In this guide we take a look at the private and public health systems in Hong Kong when it comes to birth and prenatal care, as well as the costs and some of the local traditions and beliefs when it comes to pregnancy.  

Private vs public 
In Hong Kong you’ll have the choice between giving birth in a public or a private hospital. But, what’s the difference? Really, it comes down to your budget and the level of luxury and personal care that you’re after. Whichever you choose, you should be in safe hands. Private hospitals in Hong Kong are more popular with expats as they generally have more personalised care and English speaking staff.  Public hospitals are reliable and modern with well-qualified doctors, but they can be crowded with lengthy wait times. 

In most cases, you’ll choose your obstetrician (OB) first and their preferred hospital will determine where you’ll give birth.  If you use the private system for your pregnancy, you’ll be able to choose which OB is right for you. Through a public hospital, you’ll most likely see a different doctor/OB for each of your prenatal appointments and then another will deliver your baby. 

If you choose to use the public system, you’ll need a referral letter from your medical practitioner and to register your pregnancy with a hospital. You’ll go to this hospital again for your initial scan at 13 weeks, and at this point, you’ll find out which hospital you’ve been booked with for your remaining check-ups and to deliver your baby. Expats with a Hong Kong ID card are able to receive significantly discounted rates with public hospitals – you’ll need a visa to live in Hong Kong for six months or more to register for one of these cards.

If you prefer to use a private clinic or hospital, you’ll need to register with your chosen provider early on in your pregnancy. As an AXA customer, you can make the most of the AXA Select medical network where we can settle bills directly with the hospital. You can find out more and search for providers in our network using our online medical provider search tool

You’ll be expected to pay a deposit to secure your care and delivery at the hospital very early on – this can cost anything from HK$10,000 to HK$20,0001. The hospital costs usually don’t include the costs of your prenatal appointments or tests and scans, so be sure to check what is and isn’t included in your birthing package.

Prenatal care 
If you’re using public antenatal care, schedule an appointment as soon as possible at a Maternal and Child Health Centre. The prenatal services at these Centres are similar to what you’d expect in Western countries. If you have a Hong Kong ID card then the prenatal care program is free at a Health Centre. 

If you’d prefer to use private prenatal care, you can find a private prenatal specialist. The Hong Kong Medical Association has a directory of specialists, or you can ask for referrals from friends.  A private doctor will provide you with your care and be there during your delivery. Private prenatal care could cost between HK$950 and HK$4,2002 for each check-up appointment, depending on the tests and care you need.

You can choose to use a ‘half and half’ option, which means that you’ll be using a mixture of the private and public health systems. 

If you’d like a private midwife for added support throughout your pregnancy, private midwifery services are available in Hong Kong. These services give access to midwife-led routine maternity care as a supplement to treatment through the public or private systems. They offer packages at different costs at varying levels of support and services, as well as one off appointments with their doctors. These midwives will guide you through your appointments, help you to create a birthing plan and be there when the baby arrives to help you to settle. 

Your delivery 
Your birthing plan will need to be considered when you’re making your decision, as public hospitals don’t offer as many options when it comes to how you’d like to deliver your baby. For example, if you’re thinking of having a home-birth or water-birth, you won’t be able to through the public health service. 

If you have a preference between a natural delivery and a caesarean section, this will also need to be considered as public hospitals won’t give c-sections without a medical necessity. You can read more about c-sections here

If you’re registered with a private midwife and have opted for a higher cost care package, they’ll generally come to your house once you’re in labour and accompany you to the hospital. If you’re registered with a public hospital, you’ll need to make your way to the hospital where you’ll be taken to your labour ward. A midwife will be on hand in the public hospital and charged as part of the delivery costs. It is generally the OB who looks after you in the private hospital, but you can arrange for a private midwife to also be there, at an extra cost. 

Private hospitals will charge for your admission, treatment and delivery as a package and these can cost anywhere between HK$14,800 & HK$94,0003, offering a varied range of luxury. Additional costs include meals, drugs and dressings and checks for your baby. 

The public system does offer a pregnancy package which will cover you for a prenatal consultation, your delivery and for your stay in hospital. This costs around HK$39,000 without a Hong Kong ID card. 

Pregnancy and parenthood - cultural traditions in Hong Kong 
It’s worth bearing in mind some of the cultural traditions and beliefs in your new country as some might affect what you do throughout your pregnancy and when the baby arrives.

Breastfeeding is still taboo in Hong Kong. It’s not very common to see people breastfeeding in public, though this shouldn’t put you off – there are still private areas where you can breastfeed. 

In Hong Kong, some locals hire personal nurses to stay with them throughout the first month, which is referred to as the ‘sitting month’, after the baby arrives to look after them and their new baby. These nurses are called Pui Yuets and will cook and clean during this time whilst the new mum rests up. New mums generally won’t see friends and family or leave the house in this time. The cost of a Pui Yuet can cost anything from HKD8,000 and HKD20,0004

Finding the support you need 
If you’re new to parenting and to the neighbourhood, it can be overwhelming if you don’t have your support network around. There are a number of mums’ groups that you can join where you’ll be able to connect with other new parents – as both locals and expats. You’ll be able to find out more about these groups and how to join them by asking your doctor or OB, and by doing some online research.

Our World of Wellbeing hub contains lots of useful tips and information about being a parent abroad. Whether you’re about to have your first baby, or you’re moving your whole family to a new country, there’s plenty of advice about how to help things go smoothly. 

And if you’re ever unsure of anything, no matter where you are, we’ll always do our best to put you at ease. There’s a team of midwives on hand through our health information helpline who’ll be able to answer any questions you might have about your pregnancy. You’ll just need to call +44 (0)1892 556 753 between 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday, until 4pm on Saturday and until 12pm on Sunday (UK time).

If you have any questions about making a claim with us or what your policy covers, you can call us anytime, day or night on +44 (0)1892 503 856. 

Sources 
1. http://www.livinginhongkong.org/maternity-costs-hong-kong/ 
2. https://www.annerley.com.hk/index.php/Category/Clinic.html
3. http://www.livinginhongkong.org/maternity-costs-hong-kong/ 
4. https://www.sassymamahk.com/pregnancy/maternity-nurses-night-nurses-pui-yuet-services/