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“You can’t have your baby here…!”

"You can't have your baby here...!" - A Baby Abroad
“You can’t have your baby here…!”

This Mom Abroad is called Elena. She is Russian, she had a baby in China, and now lives in Korea. I have met and spoken to other women who have had babies in China and I have heard all sorts of stories. Picture perfect stories and shocking horror stories as well… This one kind of has a little bit of both!

“I am Russian and I moved to China to study. I met my Korean husband in Shanghai and got pregnant a bit later. I spent my entire pregnancy in Shanghai and started with medical check ups during week 3, in a regular Chinese hospital. Thankfully, I can speak Chinese, so I had no need to go to a foreign hospital, where the prices are much higher.


The monitoring process was not that different from my country’s. I got a blood test and the size of my belly was measured every two weeks. However, I was not satisfied with the ultrasounds.

In China, it is against the law to inquire about and know the baby’s sex before it is born, even for foreigners.

But we were so curious we decided to go to Russia during week 19 for a screening and an ultrasound, and that’s how we found out we were going to have a boy. I found that the medical check up in Russia is much better than in China.

When it was time for another appointment back in China, we visited the hospital and I was suddenly told that because I am a foreigner, I could not give birth there, and I could no longer continue having my medical check ups there. I was so confused! I had been going to that hospital since the beginning and we were very careful to ask if it was possible for the entire pregnancy process and birth to happen there. Even though when we inquired in the past everyone said it was OK, for some reason, this time, they insisted we had to find another hospital. This was very stressful because I had no idea where to go.

By then I was already 28 weeks pregnant, and most hospitals did not accept me as a patient because they only took in patients who had been monitoring their entire pregnancy there. Luckily, my Chinese teacher helped me find a hospital that was finally willing to take me in. This second hospital is also a regular, Chinese hospital, but it is totally different. Compared to the one I went to at first, this one is huge and all doctors speak English. Also, the medical equipment is much better quality, and the prices are not so different. I was totally satisfied with everything.

I was told that because of my high blood pressure I should deliver my baby earlier, so they decided to induce labor at week 38.  When the time came, I went to the hospital to be submitted, as agreed upon with the doctor who conducted my check up. However, upon being seen by the doctor who’d be doing the delivery, he said it was too early, and that I should wait for natural birth. This contradiction between the doctors was crazy!

By week 39, it was decided that my baby’s birth had to, finally, be induced, and so it was. at week 39 + 6 days, I gave birth to my boy with no complications.

I guess the best thing of delivering a baby abroad is that I got a special treatment as a patient, I got more attention and in general felt that the nurses were more caring. I guess this was because  I was the only foreigner there at the time.

We continued living in Shanghai until my son was six months old. I loved using Taobao (a very popular online shopping site in China) to get all sorts of cheap and good quality things for him. Our life in China was really very comfortable.

We currently live in Korea because my husband is in service in the army. This is where we are raising my son. He is now one year and 2 months old, and he can already understand and speak Russian and Korean.

I find that he is able to do so many more things than other children his age, both in Russia and in Korea! I think this is because of the international life he has had.

In a few months we are planning on enrolling him in a Korean Kindergarten, as we think this will help him further grow and develop. However, we plan on going back to Shanghai in a year or so. We hope he can learn both Chinese and English there.

If I had to give other women in similar situations advice, I would tell them not to be afraid of the difficulties that may come with having a baby abroad.

Maybe they will not fully understand some cultural things, or they won’t comprehend some of the medical practices of the country, but really, any problem can be solved. You just have to accept that the country you are from is different, and perhaps it has different standards, but in the end, people have babies there too! So don’t panic!

Are you also a Mom Abroad?

Would you like to share your story here at A Baby Abroad? I would love to hear your experiences with pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood away from home! Contact me at I would be thrilled to hear and share your story.

  • This was so interesting to ready! It’s crazy how different every country and culture is. But what an experience having a baby abroad! Kudos, mama!

  • Amanda says:

    Wow I didn’t know it was illegal to find out gender in China! I’ve always wondered what if would be like to have a baby abroad. My husband is military so it’s a real possibility it could happen to us!

  • Tricia says:

    I’d heard about the Chinese gender preference for boys, but I didn’t know it was illegal to find out during the ultrasound! So crazy!

  • Mae says:

    I love this series you are doing and so glad to be part of it! I’m familiar with China’s preference to have boys in the family but didn’t know it was illegal to find out a baby’s gender.

  • Amanda says:

    That is so crazy that it is illegal to inquire about the gender!! I am shocked!

    • I know its crazy! But it´s because people will most likely get an abortion if it´s a girl… the culture is very sexist, and families usually “need” to have males in their families because they will get better jobs, boys get more years of paid school, whereas a girl is a burden, more costly to educate, more difficult to get her working and helping out economically, and to top it off.. you have to marry her!!!! Until about a year ago there was the one child law, which meant people only had one chance at having children, and if it was a girl, they were at a clear disadvantage. Horrible, I know… I guess I am trying to be open minded to this cultural reality!
      Thanks for your comments!

      • Jin says:

        It’s an exaggeration to say that “people will most likely get an abortion if it’s a girl”. Not true at all…. In the most rural areas, maybe. But still only a small percentage of people do. Usually the most illiterate. Please don’t just categorize Chinese into one group of people and put labels on them. It’s true that traditionally boys were preferred over girls, but the culture now is not that sexist at all, especially in major cities, even comparing to the West. Women don’t take husband’s last names, don’t pay for weddings, and request men to own cars and properties before getting married. The sexism is actually towards men in many aspects. If women’s family is richer, they could be even request children to take their family name.

        • Hi!
          What you are saying is absolutely true. I am sorry if this conversation came out as being biased, for sure this does not happen all over China and for sure it happens less and less as people become more educated. In my experience in China I have seen and heard a little of both things going on, but I agree with you in that it happens less nowadays. I think it is very interesting how people’s behaviors change through time based on cultural standards and practices.
          Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  • jennifer says:

    wow! i had no idea there was a law in china banning a gender reveal in an ultrasound. i can’t imagine having a baby abroad. i was too scared to switch doctor’s offices when i was pregnant with my third! we moved 45 min away from my midwife and hospital.

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