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First time and panicking

  1. #1
    ShatinTang is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2012

    First time and panicking

    Hi all. Wife and I live in Shatin, just down the road from the Prince of Wales, so it's our logical choice. Also, we aren't 'high-flying' and haven't got insurance, so it's likely our only choice. Following various posts on this forum, my wife took along her HKID, proof of address and doctor's referral letter and successfully registered today. Unfortunately I couldn't go with her as I was working, and the whole experience has left me panicking a bit because things are not stacking up the way we had expected them to, few answers were forthcoming from PoW and we really have no idea what we are doing. Any advice greatly appreciated.

    We went to a local GP (recommended by a colleague), a few weeks back, and he estimated we were about six-and-a-half weeks along. He said we should come back in about four weeks to get a referral letter for a hospital where all our antenatal care stuff would be taken care of. We went back four weeks later (last weekend) and his surgery was closed, so we went across the street to another doctor. That doctor's jaw nearly hit the floor when my wife said she wasn't taking folic acid - the first doctor had completely failed to mention it, and this is our first time! Anyway, we got the referral letter and my wife registered today.

    Maybe the first doctor had given us incomplete or misleading information, but we had somehow come to believe that having a scan at 12 weeks was normal. The second doctor practically insisted that we have one, saying such worrying things as "but what if your baby has stopped growing, or has no heartbeat?". So we sort of imagined this would be covered at the hospital. No, they said, scans at 12weeks are not normal. My wife was given a list of private hospitals at which she could get her scan done if she really wanted it. There is some sort of 'free' scan available, but the quota is full and is blocked up for months ahead.

    In the end my wife was given an appointment back at the hospital for mid June (at about the 27 week mark) and was told to make an appointment at a local clinic. The clinic, we were told, would be able to answer all our questions.

    So, ok, the birth part will cost only a few hundred, I guess. But what most posts don't mention is the cost of the pregnancy itself. How many scans do we need? Do we have to have all of them privately? How do we arrange them and at what points during the pregnancy? How much is it all likely to cost? I am panicking a bit because I won't be able to be there next week for my wife's clinic appointment (more work) and I feel utterly ignorant and uninformed. I am concerned that we have been working on poor information so far, and I feel that the first GP set our expectations off in completely the wrong direction.

    What is this appointment at 27 weeks that they have made? Isn't there supposed to be a 20 week scan? What is the scan with the full quota for months in advance and who has been booking up all of those slots? I mean, it can't be the 12 week scan because you'd have to book it before getting pregnant, and although it could be the 20 week scan I don't want to clutch at too many straws. Does it mean we'll have to go private for our 20 week scan as well? How do low-income local families afford all this private scanning? Or do they simply make do without scans?

    Is there a checklist of things we need to do during a pregnancy? I work better with checklists.

    Also, what is a 'birth plan'?


  2. #2
    lesliefu is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    South District

    dont know where to start...but first of all, you seem to be in good hands. you've registered for a place in PoW and that ensures that you will have a place to give birth...which is great! :) now, you will have to find (if you decide to do so) a private OBGYN to get your scans done privately, if you believe in the benefits of scans, since public hospitals do not give you as many as the private would and not all of them are necessary (some say). if i recall correctly, i had scans at 12, 20, 28/30, 35...the 20wk is the OSCAR which checks for down syndrome I believe, and was highly recommended for women 35+.

    a birth plan is a list of things you would like the hospital / doctor to do or not do during the birth process...say, you'd like to dim the lights whilst you are giving want an will be able to draw up your own birth plan once you read more on this topic - or perhaps take classes. perhaps someone on this forum will be able to point you in the right direction...

    dont worry about the folic acid- i never took any for baby #1 as you only take it for the first 3 mths of your pregnancy and I didnt find out i was pregnant till i was 4mths along.

    congrats and take a breathe - you'll be fine! the public system is very good in HK.

  3. #3
    Newbie_hk is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Dec 2010

    Congratulations! I went to POW but I did all of my antenatal care with Annerley. They provided me with a checklist which guided me thoughout my pregnancy. They do not do scans but they can refer you to a doctor who can do that.

    If you have any questions with POW, feel free to PM me. The mums at this forum have been very helpful when I was pregnant & it's time to pay it forward.

  4. #4
    ShatinTang is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2012

    Thanks, both of you, for the reassuring words. I think as long as I know what I'm supposed to be doing and what I'm responsible for arranging, then I can calm down a bit. It's particularly frustrating hearing only vague translations of incomplete information, second hand. And knowing that I might not get a chance to speak directly to any of these health care professionals is vexing, too. I can see I shall be coming back here with a fair few questions in the coming weeks and months, so thank for your patience and understandig.
    Posted via Mobile Device

  5. #5
    penelope is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    hong kong

    It s at the 12 weeks scan the you will get tested for DOWN syndrom(scan and blood test)

  6. #6
    doanni2 is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2012

    Where I come from (in Europe), regular scans are done around 3 times during pregnancy (if you go to the public system; more often if you have private insurances). No need to do scans more often if everything is going fine.
    Around 20 weeks there is a more detailed one where they check that all organs are working, take a look at head, shape, hands, feet, legs, see that all seems to be in its place..
    Before that, but I do not remember if it is around week 12, they do the down syndrome test (blood test and scan to measure something on the baby's neck).

  7. #7
    thanka2 is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    May 2009

    I second what others have said. You're registered in the public hospital for a place to give birth and that's one of the biggest things you can check off your list.

    Actually, in other countries doctors aren't nearly as "scan-happy" as they are here in Hong Kong. With both of my children I went for a monthly appointment with a private doctor and with my daughter I also went to a monthly appointment in the public hospital. At that point we weren't sure if we were going to give birth in a private hospital or the public hospital but in the end we gave birth in a public hospital--but we needed to be under the care of a private physician if we had decided to go the private route so that he/she could book us into a private hospital.

    Anyway, the important scans are usually done on confirmation of pregnancy (internal scan), 12 weeks (if you want it--the OSCAR test), 20 weeks (structural scan of things like the spine, limbs and major organs and their development) and 27 weeks (checking the amniotic fluid level usually as well as just the general condition of the baby).

    So, no need to go to a private OBGYN at this point--just attend your prenatal checkups either in the hospital or the maternal health center (if they refer you there) for the remainder of the pregnancy--you usually go once a month until your last month of pregnancy when you go every week unless there are complications or needs for further tests--which will be identified at your regular checkups if they arise. The fee for these checkups if you hold a HKID is usually free unless there are specific tests and then it usually will run you no more than $100 HKD.

    The folic acid thing is kind of a well-known thing about being pregnant. Have you or your wife read any information online prior to becoming pregnant or after finding out you were? Most websites such as this one will give you basic advice on what you should be eating and doing at each stage of your pregnancy. It's pretty accurate and if you were even trying to conceive most websites as well as doctors will recommend upping your folic acid intake because the truth is that folic acid is a big deal throughout pregnancy but is the biggest deal in the first crucial weeks of pregnancy when the basic outlay of the spine is developing--folic acid helps to prevent spinal malformities like spina bifida and chiari. So unless you were taking it as you were trying to conceive or getting it in your diet at that time, by the time that most people are able to confirm their pregnancy the "critical period" for folic acid--when it makes the most difference has already passed. It's still important throughout pregnancy, though. But, it's possible your wife was already getting folic acid through her diet (by eating: lentils, beans, peas, citric juices, dark green vegetables...even some breads and cereals are fortified with folic acid)...still a supplement is the best way to go.

    So, there is a lot of information out there for free right on the internet--videos you can watch by experts, articles you can read, research you can read--I don't know about you but when I found out I was pregnant I started reading everything I could get my hands on and actually I got very little practical information from my doctor--especially the first time around--I got most of my information from my own research and friends and it served me well.

    Anyway, don't sweat it--you're booked for a hospital place. Congratulations too!

    miran likes this.
    “Many women have described their experiences of childbirth as being associated with a
    spiritual uplifting, the power of which they have never previously been aware …
    To such a woman childbirth is a monument of joy within her memory.
    She turns to it in thought to seek again an ecstasy which passed too soon.”

    ~ Grantly Dick-Read (Childbirth Without Fear)

    Mother of Two
    JMW, boy, born November 29, 2007, 9:43 pm, USA
    MJW, girl, born March 17, 2011, 4:14 pm, HK

  8. #8
    charade is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Jun 2010

    Just wanted to update on scans at public hospitals. I delivered two babies in the public system at United Christian Hospital in Kwun Tong one in 2010 and my baby girl a month ago.

    Earlier, the public system would offer a free OSCAR test/scan at 12 weeks for women over 35 (if you were below 35 you were advised to get it done privately) and a free scan at 20 weeks (called a morphological scan where details of various organs are checked) for all women registered. However, since last year they are offering the 12 week scan free and you have to do the 20 week scan privately if you wish. There is a notice up on this at the clinics and hospitals so I don't think it has anything to do with quota - it's just a policy for everyone.

    I chose to do the 12 week scan privately (for reasons even I'm unclear about) and the 20 week scan privately. On the 20 week scan, my baby's kidney showed up as dilated. I took the results of this scan to my next public appointment and they arranged another free scan for me. Thereafter, I had another free scan at 32 weeks to see if the kidney was still dilated (it was). I was also doing private appointments and at my 36 week scan privately, my baby was in breech position. When I did my next public appointment I told them this and they did another brief scan to confirm this before discussing options for delivery with me.

    Even with my first baby I had an extra couple of free scans because they felt my baby might be too large. My point is that in the public system, if your pregnancy is very normal they do minimal scans but should there be complications they will not hesitate to offer extra scans.

    Unfortunately, yes, you'll have to go private for 20 weeks now unless there is something to indicate to them that they need to offer it to you. However, you can choose not to do it at all. It is kind of expensive. You could save money by doing less private appointments/scans in between though.

    Also, a lot of the private doctors reccomended on these forums are the expat friendly ones that tend to be located in Central and are expensive (1000+ for a consultation). However, there are less famous, equally competent doctors on the kowloon side that you could see for basic check-ups and scans (the 20 week scan requires a specialist though). When I was pregnant with my first I saw a doctor who charged 600hkd,scan included.

    Why don't you register on the website... they send weekly e-updates on the pregnancy and what you should be looking out for/doing. Then you can do further research on whether you want to do those things.

    For folic acid, good to take but don't panic if not. Same with prenatal vitamins. With my first, nausea was so bad didn't take any prenatal vitamins. He was fine. Prenatal vitamins are just insurance in case your diet is not balanced enough. Folic acid is more important but never mind, start now.

    My point is that although

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