I never imagined that I would be giving birth in Taiwan. On top of facing all the usual worries of giving birth and becoming a mom for the first time, I had to figure it out in a foreign country.
Although I was born and raised in Taiwan and did not immigrate to America until I was eight, I spent the majority of my life in America. I was at a loss as to how to prepare or what it would look like.
What Hospital Visits Were Like
Since Taiwan’s healthcare is socialized, basically everyone can afford healthcare. This means that generally the good hospitals and clinics with reputable doctors were jam packed. Sometimes I had to wait for an hour to see my OB/Gyn because he was the one that owned the clinic.
During visits, a nurse would first take my weight and blood pressure. Then I would wait to be seen by the doctor for about 10-15 minutes. An ultrasound was performed at every visit to hear the baby’s heartbeat and to see the baby. I got a printout of these ultrasounds every time.
Towards the end of my pregnancy, my doctor kept reminding me to try and keep my weight gain down. Usually he’ll say through his Tainan Taiwanese accent, 「好吃的不要吃，要吃不好吃的」. Basically, eat what doesn’t taste good because that’s what’s healthy hahahah.
Why I Chose to Give Birth at Dr. Chen’s Clinic in Tainan
Many of my friends in America either gave birth at home or had a midwife deliver their baby in a hospital. I did some research myself and my sister-in-law who is a nurse practitioner, shared my leaning towards natural childbirth.
She told me later that she was worried about me because during her schooling, she learned that the episiotomy rate in Taiwan was really high.
Please understand I’m not saying that natural childbirth is better. This is simply my personal preference. However you can give birth and what best suits your family is what’s most important.
I had just about given up on trying to find a way for me to have the type of birth I preferred in southern Taiwan when I happened upon Taiwan Doula Society’s facebook page (台灣陪產員發展協會).
I called them and asked if there was either a doula or a midwife in the city where I lived, Tainan. To my surprise she said there was a midwife and her husband is a Ob/GYN who owned a clinic there. I was ecstatic! God had heard my prayer!
This is the reason why I chose to give birth at 陳澤彥婦產科醫院 and why I recommend it to my expat friends.
Dr. Chen himself was the doctor I saw for my checkups and his wife, Eva was the one who delivered our baby girl.
Labor & Giving Birth in Taiwan
The biggest difference in delivering in Taiwan vs. America are what you are responsible for bringing to the hospital, privacy during labor and the aftercare that’s available.
I had to look through several Taiwanese mom blogs to find the necessary items.Expectant mothers had to bring the following items which normally would be provided by the hospital in America:box of tissues maternity pads wipesdisposable underweardisposable underpads/bed pads cleaning bottle or sitz bath
Also, during the labor process, you wait in a long hallway separated by thinner walls in-between each laboring beds and a curtain for privacy. I have to say I wasn’t a fan of that and was thankful when I finally progressed enough for them to move me into my own private room for delivery.
Normally, to my understanding, moms would not be moved into private rooms but would continue there. But because I had spoken to Eva (my midwife) that I wanted to deliver in our own private room, that’s where I was moved.
I wrote up my birth plan in Chinese if anyone is looking to do a natural birth in Taiwan. I’m not sure if they read it because I was pretty focused on what I was doing. But here’s my birth plan (生產計畫書） in case anyone else would like one for reference.
Postpartum Care after Giving Birth: zuo yue zi/坐月子
What is Zuo Yue Zi 坐月子?
The most amazing thing about giving birth in Taiwan is the postpartum care that is available and encouraged afterwards. What once seemed like miserable confinement comparable to prison, has now become a lavish retreat for moms and a booming business in Asia. Almost everyone and their pet monkey in Taiwan expect you to do a month long postpartum rest after delivery.
What this entails, if you’re unfamiliar with the practice, is resting for a whole month. Some of the traditions are quite dated in my perspective (not showering, going outside, keeping your head covered for an entire month) but others seemed reasonable to me. I mean I just pushed a human being out of my body after growing it for the past nine months! I need some rest and nourishment.
Instead of jumping into a fitness regime to lose the weight immediately, which seems more of the predominate pressure here in America, you’re encouraged to do nothing other than rest, nourish your body and feed your baby.
Postpartum centers are everywhere throughout Taiwan and can range from $100 to $430 per night. They provide postpartum meals tailored to what Chinese Medicine doctor has prescribed for your body. You can choose to room with your baby or the more popular option of having nurses bring your baby to you only when they’re hungry.
Some places have video cameras on your baby so you can watch them in the comforts of your private postpartum room. Dads can check in on baby via apps too. Hairstylists, facials and other luxuries are available as well on top of nurses and lactation consultants. They also offer classes to teach you how to care for your baby.
Sounds heavenly right? They’ve become quite popular and I was told to get on a waiting list for one right when I find out that I’m pregnant.
What We Decided to Do
But as for us, we decided to come home for my postpartum rest. I ordered postpartum meals from a company who delivered them to our house. You can order up to three meals a day but most of my friends told me that they had so much leftover that even their husbands couldn’t finish.
We ended up ordering one meal per day. My mom also came to stay with us for that month and helped out as well. Through the postpartum meal company, I was also able to get a lactation consultant to come to our house when I was struggling with engorgement in the beginning.
I wish services like this were more readily available to moms here in America. I had such a great experience with it. It totally helped me feel more supported.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on my take on giving birth in Taiwan. What surprised you? Did you do postpartum rest as well? Please share your thoughts, questions and experiences in the comments below.
For some more good reads, check out the following posts:
- Me and My Daughter’s Language Adventure
- The 2 Most Entertaining Parenting Books
- Our Loss & His Comfort: Walking Through Miscarriage
- 3 Helpful Chinese Christian Mom Bloggers Who Are Also Teaching Their Kids Chinese
- Top 5 Resources to Help You Do Devotions as a Family in Chinese
- Getting out of the way for God to Perform Miracles in My Home
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