Updated: Apr 25, 2019
With a new baby on the way, one of the biggest decision you have to make is where am I giving birth? Some people know straight away whether they want to go public or private, with my husband and I, we took a bit longer to decide.
Like most things in life, there are pros and cons for both. After talking to mummy friend and hearing their experiences, here are the things you will need to consider.
NATURAL BIRTH OR CESARIAN
If you are under 35 and want to go for a cesarian, then your only option is to go private. Public hospital in Hong Kong will only do cesarian if it is an emergency. If you are over 35, you can request the hospital for a cesarian birth, but the doctors will still prefer you to go through natural birth unless they classify you as high risk.
There has always been two sides of the argument to say which is better. Honestly, it is really up to the mother, and there is no way to tell just by looking at someone whether they are more suitable for natural birth or cesarian. I have some really petite friends who had no problem giving birth naturally, and I have really sporty friends who had to go for energy C-section at the end. So there really is no way to tell. The most important thing is what is more comfortable for you, the mother-to-be.
You can give birth in the public hospital for around $500 or in a private hospital for approximately $70,000 upwards. So there is a considerable price difference. This is one of the biggest deciding factors for most couples, and it was for us too. At first, we thought maybe we will go public, as the hospital is close by and we can save that money for other baby expenses. However, we opt for private in the end, because I want a cesarian birth and better service.
CHOOSING YOUR DOCTOR
One of the most significant benefit of going private is that you can choose your doctor, while in a public hospital you are given whoever is available at the time. You can be fortunate and have a very experienced doctor, or you can have a trainee with an experienced midwife to help you give birth. You will not know who you will have until that moment.
Of course, every doctor starts off somewhere, even the most famous doctors now started off as trainees in a public hospital. You can rest assure that the midwives who accompany the trainees are very experienced, and if something was to go wrong, you would have a team of people rushing to your rescue.
However, if you are like me and is only comfortable with a female OBGYN, then you might consider going private. Before I chose my OBGYN now, I have seen 4 different doctors both male and female, but for some reason, I am just not comfortable and feel tenser when the OBGYN is a man.
THE AFTER CARE
If you want better food, service, and aftercare, then you will go Private, after all, you are paying for it. In a public hospital they are under staff, so be prepared to wait for a long time if your case is not an emergency.
I have friends who had excellent and horrifying experience in public hospitals. Some said that they had a good experience where the nurses are very friendly and helpful, while others said it was the worst experience of their life. At the end of the day, it is pot luck. The good thing about Private is, the nurses are generally nicer, and if they are really unhelpful, you can always complain.
CORD BLOOD STORAGE
Some parents believe in cord blood storage while some don't. If you want to do cord blood storage for your baby, they will only do that for you in a Private hospital and not public. So this is also another big deciding factor to consider.
EMERGENCY & COMPLICATIONS
I know this part you cannot plan, but it is something to bear in mind. If there are any complications or emergency, even if you have planned to go private, you will be referred back to a public hospital anyway. The reason being is because public hospitals actually have better facilities when it comes to an emergency.
Another factor to consider is their visiting hours. Public hospital visiting hours are stricter, and even when you are in labor, your partner will not be able to stay by your side if it is outside their visiting hours. I had friends' husbands who had to comfort their wives via messages or calls during early labor. (Where you are contracting but not dilated enough to give birth.) I went through it when I had my miscarriage in Queen Elizabeth 3 years ago, and it was definitely the most lonely and helpless experience I have ever felt. When you are in pain, and all alone, it is not something I would like to experience again. This was a huge deciding factor for me to go private.
Private hospitals are more generally more accommodating, you can always choose to go for a private room where you can have as many loved ones with you as you wish. Even if you are in a ward, private hospitals visiting hours are better than public hospitals.
If you want your baby next to you and be able to breastfeed whenever you want, public hospitals are actually better. Not only does public hospitals highly recommend their patients to breastfeed, after birth your baby sleeps in a cot next to your bed, where you can breastfeed your baby whenever you want, and you are responsible in taking care of your baby. However, the downside is, you don't get any rest to recover, especially if you had a cesarian, so it can be very tough.
While in a private hospital, your baby is taken into another room where nurses will help you care for your baby until they need to be feed. You can also choose to breastfeed or give your baby formula, so for mums who want to rest and recover after birth, private hospitals can give you this extra service. However, you can only breastfeed in the breastfeeding room, unless you go for their private rooms. So even if you are in a lot of pain after a cesarian birth, you will need to walk over to the breastfeeding room to feed your baby if you want to breastfeed. The doctors actually do recommend you to move or walk after 24 hours of your surgery, I can honestly say this is the part that I am dreading the most.
I would highly recommend doing hospital visits before making up your mind which hospital to go with regardless if you are going public or private. I am so glad we did before deciding to go with Baptist Hospital in Kowloon Tong.
At first, I always thought, if I was going to go public I would go with Kwong Wah Hospital and Saint Teresa Hospital if I go private. However, after my hospital visits, I actually changed my decision for both. At the end, I was registered with Queen Elizabeth Hospital for public and went with Baptist Hospital at the end.
When you do your visit, you have a much better feel of the hospital and which one you are more comfortable with. I didn't register with Kwong Wah hospital because they are actually doing a lot of construction work at the moment, so it is actually quite crowded and noisier. I didn't choose Saint Teresa at the end because I found their nurse very unhelpful and their visiting hours are not that great. Plus every time the father wants to hold the baby, we will have to pay $60 unless you are going for their private room.
REGISTER FOR BOTH
Even if you are planning to give birth in a private hospital, it is highly recommended to register for both anyway. Even though it is more troublesome and time-consuming if you have any complication during birth and they will have to transfer you to a public hospital, at least the hospital will already have all your details on file. So it will be a lot quicker for them to process your case.
I hope the above points have been useful for you when choosing to go to Public or Private hospital. Just remember this is a very personal choice, so choose something that YOU are most comfortable with, don't let anyone make you feel bad about your choice, after all, you are the one who is going through this experience. Good luck mummy-to-bes!
Sending you love and positive thoughts,