Death of a newborn stirs debate on home birth risks

Death of a newborn stirs debate on home birth risks

While a trained doula can help reduce home birth risks, an untrained one can lead to fatal accidents. Read on to know more.

A home birth is considered by its proponents to be a gentle and empowering birth method for both mummy and baby. But the recent death of a newborn in Malaysia has re-ignited debate on home birth risks.

Earlier, reports suggested that a doula (non-medical childbirth assistant) had been involved in the birth. However, the Malaysian police’s investigations reportedly ruled this out.

Home birth risks: How this newborn died without medical help

The incident took place a few days ago in Johor Baru, when a couple allegedly approached a doula to help them deliver their baby at home.

However, things did not go as planned and the newborn died in the absence of a medical practitioner. No details are available yet on the exact nature of how the infant passed away.  

Following the death, somebody posted about it on Facebook and even filed a complaint with the state police. Incidentally, the doula who was mentioned in the post also came out alleging false accusations.

home birth risks

Without the assistance of a trained doula and medical practitioners, home birth risks increase manifold. | Image courtesy: Pixabay

State police chief Datuk Mohd Khalil Kader Mohd told Channel News Asia, “Indeed, there have been a lot of statements on Facebook (FB) on this incident … The woman who is said to be the doula has also made a police report, denying the allegation on her involvement, which led to the baby’s death.”

“We have also referred to the baby’s family but their preliminary statements did not mention (the service of) doula. So, we have begun a thorough investigation based on statements on FB,” he added. 

Doula not involved in death of Malaysian baby, says police

Now that the investigation is finally over, the doula is no longer a suspect. 

“A complete investigation has been conducted by the police, and it was found that the cause of the baby’s death was not due to using the services of a doula,” ACP Shahurinain Jais, South Johor Police chief told the media

However, the police have referred the case to the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC). 

After this shocking case, the Medical Mythbusters Malaysia reportedly issued an open letter to the Sultan of Johor, Sultan Ibrahim Almarhum Sultan Iskandar. The agency wants the Sultan to intervene and spread more awareness about home birth risks. 

This brings us to the crucial point of how to avoid home birth risks. The first step is to understand the need of a trained doula. 

Why you need a trained doula during home births 

As mentioned in our previous article, a doula “provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth; or who provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period.”

This means that she should ideally be medically trained for the purpose. However, she cannot replace your obstetrician or the labour-room nurses. She can only act as an assistant. 

Even so, there are many advantages of approaching a doula for home birth, especially if you are interested in water birth.  

Keep in mind that if you have pregnancy complications, a home birth should not be considered. Always speak to your ob-gyn about the pros and cons of a home birth before going ahead with one. 

home birth risks

Irrespective of your birth plan, your doula can help you make the process smooth and easy and reduce home birth risks. | Image courtesy: Pixabay

3 Advantages of having a doula

1. They keep the mother feeling motivated 

A doula can use comfort measures such as massage, counter pressure and even a hip squeeze during labour. This helps to make the experience as comfortable as possible for the mum. She can even suggest exercises and positions that can comfort the mother. 

2. They support the mother and her partner 

As mentioned in our previous article, doulas can also assist with remembering important information from midwife or doctor appointments. They can help out if mum needs a back rub or a massage, and in general, they can take away some of the stress the partner may be feeling.

3. They can help you understand childbirth

Doctors often use medical terminology that is difficult to understand. A doula solves that problem for you. They can facilitate communication between you and the medical practitioners. 

In addition, they can also explain terms and processes related to pregnancy and birth that you may not understand. They will not interfere with the role of the obstetrician or nurses. 

Finding a doula in Singapore

1. ParentLink

They have the largest team of independent doulas in Singapore, and have been around since 1998.
Address:15 Tham Soong Avenue, Singapore 597031 (Next to Beauty World MRT)
Email: [email protected]
Phone: +65 6204 5456
Whatsapp or SMS: +65 9008 6556

2. Four Trimesters

Founded in 2002 by Dr. Amy Chin-Atkins, Four Trimesters is now headed by Ginny Phang. 

Address: 33 Taman Warna Singapore 276369
Email:  [email protected]
Phone: +65 9664 4565

Independent doulas

Kong Choon Yen: (+65) 9863 7867

Fauziah Abbas: (+65) 9297 0171

Remember that if you are considering having a doula by your side, make sure to check her experience and background. Once you are sure you want to go with her, do not forget to share your birth plan so you can have a safe and healthy home birth.  

Sources: Channel News Asia, The Star

ALSO READ: Doula! The Ultimate Birth Companion in Singapore

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Written by

Deepshikha Punj

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