For the past 4 months, I have been battling out my way through being pregnant at post. For one, satisfying my cravings proved to be very challenging as food that I grew up with are not readily available. The nearest Dunkin’ Donuts, for example, is in Shenzhen, Guangdong, China! There is no Krispy Kreme here either (sad, I know).
On top of the first trimester blues, there is the anxiety of finding the right obstetrician and the right private hospital, wishing both will be as good as the previous ones I had back home. It is not really that simple to do that in Hong Kong. The fact of life here is to book a hospital, private or public, as soon as you learn that you are pregnant then pray for a confirmation that you have at least a bed on your due date. As early as May, most private hospitals have been fully booked for the rest of this year, one major reason for which is the influx of people from Mainland China who pay top dollar to give birth here for the residency.
After getting feedback from flight attendants who gave birth here, I went ahead and braved their public healthcare system yet again. With a notice from a private doctor that I am indeed pregnant and a vial of urine sample, I went to the same health center I once brought Little Miss Siu Baau to for a vaccination (in my previous post Consular Corps ID). My Consular Corps ID was minimally questioned as they already have it in their system this time, and I was not asked to pay yey! Antenatal checks are done only on Thursday mornings, so it was cute to find some 40 other pregnant women surrounding me in the waiting area. Aside from the usual blood pressure and weight check, they tested for urinary sugar and protein levels, which is part of every antenatal check here as I later found out. Blood works, a long interview and a Doppler scan after, I was sent home with my barcoded medical records and my next two antenatal visit schedules at Princess Margaret Hospital, one specifically for a routine Down syndrome screening, which also came for free!
All I did next was to show up at the public hospital as scheduled, and they already know all about me and my pregnancy status through the barcode. Thanks to their efficient system, I am booked! Surprisingly, the public hospital is similar to a three-star hospital back home and a far cry from our public ones. It is not at all crowded nor toxic as I expected, probably because they seem to have a cap on daily bookings. Honestly, I would not have minded giving birth here and staying in a ward for 5 days (there are no private rooms in Princess Margaret Hospital by the way*), if only they did not inform me that they will attempt a vaginal delivery first even if I had a Caesarean section done previously unless my previous scar ruptures or complications occur. What?! Oh well, it’s practically free. If I decide to give birth at Princess Margaret Hospital, I was told my hospital bill will not go beyond HKD300, yes, less than HKD300 cash out for the whole pregnancy!
Between my antenatal checks through their public system here, I managed to squeeze a visit to a, if not THE, top British obstetrician here, Dr. Lucy Lord, as recommended by Mr. Diplomat’s colleague. I felt closer to home at first visit. Posh interiors, plush sofas…now that is more like it. Majority of her clientele are expats. Her approach is straightforward in explaining what we need to do for the duration of the pregnancy, given that it is going to be my first in Hong Kong. The private system here more or less follows the same procedures as the public system, except that they offer ultrasound at every antenatal check. Of top priority is booking my hospital of choice, Matilda International Hospital, the closest thing I found to the previous hospital I gave birth in. Her staff will keep putting my name back on the hospital waiting list until I get a confirmation, which will not come until after three rejections on average (great…). I already got rejected once, so there are probably two more to go. The good news is that all her previous patients got confirmation in the end, even if it came as late as a week before their due dates. I just hope I will not be the first to get declined completely. For the meantime, all I can do is pray and prepare my birth plan.
Next month, the baby will get a morphology scan. Here’s to a baby boy this time!
|Public System||Private System (Dr. Lucy Lord, Matilda International Hospital)|
|Average Time Spent Per Visit||1.5 hours||20 minutes|
|Urine Sampling||Preferably at home, own container; in clinic, provided paper cup||In clinic, provided container|
|Urine Testing||Free; self-service||Free; by nurse|
|Blood Test Fee||Free||HKD1,800|
|Down Syndrome Screening Fee||Free||HKD950|
|Morphology Scan Fee||Free||HKD1,500|
|Hospital Deposit||None||HKD20,000 maternity booking deposit + HKD20,000 admission deposit if no insurance (HKD40,000 if from Mainland China)|
|Estimated Final Hospital Bill||HKD300-500 for ward||HKD130,000-160,000 for twin room|
*There are public hospitals here with private rooms. However, if you book a private room, you are required to check with a private doctor as well and private rates apply (Fees & Charges for Private Services in Public Hospitals, www3.ha.org.hk). Switching from ward to a private room during recovery is not allowed in such public hospitals.