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Expat Experience: Having a Baby in Melaka, Malaysia

By ExpatExchange.com Member

How recently did you give birth in the country that you are reporting on?

3 years ago

Describe your experience giving birth there. What type of facility did you go to? What (if any) type of pain management did you use? How long did you stay in the hospital? Was it a positive experience? Etc...

I delivered in a private hospital (HPAK). I had a caesarian under general anaesthetic, due to fetal distress (doc said placenta was not functioning properly as was two weeks overdue and then reacted badly to pitocin induction). The whole thing was a nightmare, though I've been assured that the same would have happened elsewhere given the circumstances.

I did really feel that they take a "medically managed" approach there and I believe that I didn't go into labour on my own because I was so afraid of giving birth in a hospital there. Almost every expat I know who has given birth in Melaka has had a caesarian, and I know a number of them.

I was in hospital for four days. It was unpleasant. We insisted that the baby room in with me, and my husband stayed with us to help. This was out of the ordinary for them! No one breastfeeds there, and none of the midwives or nurses could offer any help - luckily I had done my research or it never would have worked out. Even the baby's pediatrician said we shouldn't even bother trying, that she wouldn't do it because she was delivered under general anaesthetic.

Mostly I felt like they ignored me; they were afraid of us, maybe?? Then they'd come in and stick a thermometer up baby's bum as soon as we'd FINALLY got her to sleep, or come give me a sponge bath at 4am, when *I* was finally asleep. It was such a relief to go home.

Also do not inform the patients of anything, or blatantly lie to avoid explaining anything. They told me the Heparin shot was antibiotics. The doctor told me the painkiller he sent me home with was safe when nursing and I looked it up online when I got home and found I should absolutely not be taking it...

How did you choose your doctor, midwife or other type of medical professional?

I asked one of the two expats in town who was able to have a natural delivery (second baby for both of these women, btw, and quick and simple; I can think of at least ten of us who had caesarians) who she saw and went to him.

If you were to have another child in this country, would you do anything differently in terms of preparation and/or the delivery?

I would probably opt to go to Pantai Bangsar in KL or one of the more forward thinking hospitals in that city. In expat circles there, they only know ONE OB in the whole country who supports natural birth - he is at Pantai Bangsar and his wife is one of the few lactation consultants in the country.

If a friend of yours living in the same country were expecting, what advice would you give her?

Go home, or find that doc in Kuala Lumpur. Singapore might also be a good option. Question your doctor about practices - caesarians and episiotomies and laying in bed while in labour and flat on your back to deliver (if you even get to the pushing part!) are the norm. Read up on breastfeeding, know what a proper latch looks like and be familiar with any issues you might encounter, because you will get NO help unless it involves handing you a bottle of formula. Do not take any drugs you are given until you can get someone with an internet connection to look them up and check their safety, especially if you nurse.

In sum, be as informed as you possibly can and ask questions every step of the way.

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First Published: Apr 29, 2006

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Expats are attracted to Malaysia's lower cost of living, bustling cities, multicultural vibe, climate and proximity to Singapore. Many expat retirees take advantage of the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) program. For others who don't qualify, visa runs become a inconvenient part of expat life that often dissuade them from staying in Malaysia long-term.

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