Category Archives: Hong Kong

Having a Baby Abroad – Global Differences Series: HONG KONG

Next up in the series of The Global Differences of Baby-Making I talk to Nicole who is a New Zealander, who grew up in Australia, and had her daughter in Hong Kong. Here is her story:

Tell me a bit about yourself? Where are you from? How old are your children and where did you have them?

unnamed-6Ni Hao! Sorry, I’m currently learning Chinese after living in Hong Kong for almost four years, so I’m a tad excited about spreading the oriental love!

So! I am Nicole and I was born in the ‘Land of the Long White Cloud’ (aka New Zealand) but have lived in Australia for most of my life…

A journalist, I’d been working as a television news reader at 24 hour news channel Sky News for the best part of a decade when we decided to do that thing called “live life on the edge” …and make the move to the cosmopolitan capital, Hong Kong.

My husband is a Hotel Manager and when the opportunity came up to move to the so-called ‘City that Never Sleeps,’ we (nervously) jumped at the chance.

Why did you have your children abroad?

Well, funny you should ask – turns out I wasn’t going to get much sleep either! In a twist of fate, that very same week we also found out we were expecting our first baby. Talk about a double whammy!

As an expectant mother abroad how did you feel?

expat baby hong kongNot having had a child in my home country, having Ava (who’s now 3.5) overseas is all I know, but naturally in the lead up to her birth, I was apprehensive about being so far away from home, without family help and support.…

Of course everyone would say “You’re not really having the baby in HK are you, ringing massive alarm bells in my head, but once we arrived in Hong Kong I realized everything was very westernized and the doctors are on an equal par with any in Australia. I had nothing to worry about and it was relatively smooth sailing all the way.

My family were (thankfully) able to come over as soon as Ava was born and that made things much easier.

Did you encounter any opinions that would have been different in your home country with regards to your pregnancy or parenting choices?

Certainly did! Locals tend to have quite differing views on giving birth in Asia, so I was met with a few unsettling comments in those early days, particularly being so new to the city, I was still so unaware of the culture (which stems back thousands of years)!

In China, it’s status quo to have a month’s confinement when you give birth which basically means bed rest for four weeks and staying indoors, away from cool air and wind, not bathing or washing your hair and eating specific (often medicinal) food, just to name a few things.

Consequently, I would get some strange looks when I had Ava out at the shops at just two weeks old. I started telling people she was older to avoid the wrath! Locals here are not ones to hold back and were always extremely forthcoming about just how I should be holding/feeding and dressing my new baby. I look back and laugh now, but then as a new (very sensitive) mum it was pretty harrowing at times.

What do you feel were the benefits to having children abroad?

unnamed-4Ava’s still young so it’s hard to pinpoint what benefits there are for her, but I am sure all of the traveling she’s doing can only be beneficial and she has partially slotted into Hong Kong’s international schooling system which allows her to meet children from all different backgrounds and cultures. Her class is also bilingual with an English teacher and a Chinese teacher.

For me, in Hong Kong I’m very lucky to have a ‘Domestic Helper’ which certainly eases the load! Life here is relatively easy, with a great public transport system to get around and everything you need at your finger tips. There’s also a great bunch of like minded expats which always helps when you’ve got friends to travel your journey with.

What advice would you give other mothers in your situation?

Try to take it all with a grain of salt if you are somewhere where the culture is very different. The locals mean well, but always trust your own instinct and do it your way.

Make sure you research well before you choose your doctor and hospital. There should be plenty of forums and online groups to help, if in doubt.

It’s not easy being away from home and family and having a child only highlights that. Make sure you’re prepared and if you can, do regular trips home. (Mind you flying is not easy until they are about three, so deep breaths!)

Hook up with other expat mums in the same boat. They’ll be your life savers.


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About Nicole:

ZbcT71eHNicole Webb is a former News Reader with 24 hour news channel Sky News Australia. Three and a half years ago she took a whole lot of deep breaths and relocated from Sydney with her hotelier husband (and bump) to the city that never sleeps, Hong Kong. The trio has survived and thrived on expat life and as well as being mum to a hyped-up toddler, Nicole works as a freelance writer, presenter, MC, media consultant and blogger.

Find her expat musings on her blog.

Follow her on Twitter and join her Facebook page.



Having a Baby Abroad – Global Differences Series: HONG KONG

Having a baby abroad Hong kongNext up in the series of The Global Differences of Baby-Making we go to Hong Kong to hear Rebekah’s story about how she had her daughter abroad. She talks about having a baby in Hong Kong, the differences in care and the dilemma of where to have another baby!

Tell me a bit about yourself? Where are you from? How old is your daughter and where did you have her?

I grew up in the outskirts of Chicago, and moved to “the city” as it’s called by us ruralites, for college. I met Hubs my junior year, and we had quite an instant connection. He soon after moved to Tokyo, the first sign of our life to come. We married in 2007 and moved to Hong Kong 4 months later. I found I was pregnant with Harriet the day we were to move, and she was born at Matilda International Hospital here in Hong Kong.


Why did you have your daughter abroad?

There were two big factors. first, we had great insurance when Harriet was born, and it paid for a much nicer hospital here than I’d ever have in the states, but second and more important, I didn’t want to be separated from Hubs when giving birth. He’s my cliché rock and I didn’t want to go through it without him.


What do you feel were the benefits to having children abroad?

This could be controversial, but one of the major advantages was that after Harriet was born, we had time to become a family before introducing her to the rest of ours. We enjoyed having time to figure things out. It took a lot of the stress off, and helped us to get to know our daughter. It meant that by the time we did take her “home” at 7 weeks to introduce her to family, there was no way anyone could suggest they knew better than we did how to care for her. The other major benefit was simply that it made us feel at home here. we had a family here, it gave us some roots, and if you know anything about us, roots aren’t something we have a lot of.



As an expectant mother abroad how did you feel?

Initially I was very nervous about the system here, as private hospitals book almost as soon as pregnancy is confirmed, and the public system, while medically excellent, is very different than what I was familiar with. Once we were confirmed a spot at our chosen hospital, I felt quite good about things. I did worry about caring for my baby if I required a C section, as I knew my husband had limited parental leave, but we decided that if it came to that, we would fly someone over to help.


Did you encounter any opinions that would have been different in your home country with regards to your pregnancy or parenting choices?

Absolutely. So many things. It had a baby in May. it gets HOT in Hong Kong starting in roughly March, yet I had to practically beg for ice water in restaurants, as drinking cold things are considered dangerous for the baby or will cause distress in delivery, depending on which little old lady tells you her version…I understand that these are their beliefs, but being in an international city, not a small village, I didn’t anticipate this. Another thing we had to deal with was breastfeeding in public. Breastfeeding was the norm at the hospital we chose, and that is part of why we chose it, but definitely not in public. If you know Chinese culture you realize that in most cases they will not be too confrontational, but they certainly can stare and give you the stink eye. We continually deal with other cultural issues like touching baby’s hands (better now that Harriet is nearly 3 and will tell people no) but I was certainly grateful for my Ergo carrier and I learned to be a bit more aggressive with my stroller (when I used it) than I would be in the States.


What advice would you give other mothers in your situation?

Know your options, and if in Hong Kong, resister early. Some hospitals offer pre-registration. (not affiliated in any way, just a very helpful site for me) is always the most up to date on hospital practices for western families, knows which OBs support natural birth, who will sign you up for a C section right away, etc.


Now we are considering a second baby and debating what to do. The public hospital system here is good, but I am spoiled by my previous experience. The idea of not having my baby room in is not ideal, and home births are not really an option in Hong Kong, as it’s not exactly legal, as I’ve been told, so there is no safety net if something goes wrong, and well educated providers are hard pressed to assist due to their legal risk.


You can find Rebekah on Twitter and you can visit her blog:


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