Singapore is located in South of Malaysia. It’s a small and high developed country. It is a great and expensive place to live.
There are three different cultures there. Chinese, followed by Malay and Indian. In the Chinese tradition when the woman gets marriage, she moves to the husband’s house, living with his family.
Nowadays some couples have their own house, but still near the husband’s parents. When the mother goes back to work, normally the baby is cared by the grandmother.
I researched about birth in Singapore since last year, because they have one of the lowest maternal and newborn mortality rates in the world. I also researched about groups that are working with natural birth.
I found one organization called ParentLink. The Director and doula Di was so sweet and receptive. She received us and showed about birth there. We visited two hospitals and spoke with the staffs.
Singapore changed dramatically in the past 40 years. Birth changed from homebirth to a high tech hospital birth. The health system is public and private. But during childbirth there is no insurance that pays for the birth, it’s all private and expensive. The government subsides only women that have very low income.
There are no independent midwives, but there is one OB/GYN, that attends homebirths.
Some private hospitals have higher rates of c-section, around 70%, but the national rate is around 33%. Hospitals are based on the active management of birth and high use of technology. The hospital nurse said it is rare a birth with no intervention. Almost all babies are born with some kind intervention in the natural birth process, like epidural, c-section, synthetic oxytocin, episiotomy, early cord clamping…
Some hospitals have nursery, where some babies stay. The mothers can choose to have their babies in the room with them. But the staff said the mothers prefer to rest. They are paying for the hospital so they think the hospital nurses should take care of their babies. The babies are taken to the room when is feeding time. It’s part of the culture.
Di said that little by little is changing, women are having more choices. There are four hospitals that offer water birth. The key is that women must find the right care provider for them.
One of the hospitals we visited has a great midwifery program where the midwife meet the mother during pregnancy and stays with her during the birth process and does post partum visits up to two months post partum.
We met many wonderful women in Singapore. One of them was Hanna, a very sweet and simple Muslim women. She is specialist in post partum massages and the traditional Malay wrap.
Interestingly she can feel a big difference in the women bodies between women that had analgesia for the ones that did not. The epidural numbs the whole abdomen area. The bowel movements stop working well. After massage she said it starts pulsating, it helps a lot the body to go back to work properly. It helps unblock lymph nodes, so the drug comes out from the body faster. And they have to drink plenty of water to help the body drain everything out.
Organizations like ParentLink are so important to help the parents to make informed choices about conscious conception, labour, birth and parenting.
“It is important that women learn all their options, so they decide what’s right for them and their babies. And it’s important that the professionals support women for whatever choice they make. Childbirth is a physiological event, something that our bodies where designed to do. Women need to trust in their bodies and the care provider need to give them permission to do that as well.” Di Bustamante
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