Having a baby in Penang

Having a baby in Penang

Self congratulations are in order.  We had a baby in Penang last month, and I want to share with you our experience with prenatal care, delivery, and the follow up since.

Dr. Narinda Singh Shadan and our newborn at Island Hospital in Penang

Dr. Narinda Singh Shadan and our newborn

First, we need to introduce you to Dr. Narinder Singh Shadan, one of the O.B.s at Island Hospital.  (find all the letters after his name here) We were referred to Dr. Narinder through other expat friends who had a baby in Penang, just as my wife was starting to go through the ordeal of morning sickness.  Dr. Narinder has the distinction of being the only doctor certified to do water birth in Penang.  We had heard about it when we had our other children, but didn’t have it available to us where we were living before, and now we had the opportunity.  I’m not going into the details of water birth, you can read more about it at waterbirth.org.These friends of ours had their third baby, and this was the first baby through the water birth method.  When asked, they said they would do water birth again, and since this was just a few days after giving birth (when most mothers are still saying “never again”) we thought that was a hearty recommendation.

We highly recommend Dr. Narinder.  His bedside manner is congenial and subdued.  He listens to all our concerns and addresses them.  This is not our experience with doctors in Asia.  Here is someone else’s horror story.

Our prenatal OB appointments were encouraging.  Dr. Narinder and his nurse Juliana had no problems with us having toddlers in tow when we came.  They are very good at speaking to children (again unusual for medical professionals in Asia).

The birthing pool in the delivery room. Lights are turned down low to help keep mommy relaxed.

The birthing pool in the delivery room. Lights are turned down low to help keep mommy relaxed.

A few weeks before the due date, we were shown the delivery room and the nursery ward.  That was really nice gesture on their part (something we never had with the other children).  The nurses on that floor are very friendly and helpful.

Dr. Narinder had warned us that we should let him know as soon as possible when contractions start during labor, because it takes three hours to fill up the birthing pool in the delivery room.  He gave us his personal phone number and told us to contact him directly and he would make arrangements for us.

On the day of the birth, we contacted him just before 8am to let him know that the contractions had started, and that we planned on getting to Island Hospital around 10:00.  Later he told us that after he got our call he got to Island Hospital to make arrangements for us at 8:30.  So awesome that he is so hands on and delegates only when he needs to.

Traffic through Penang was unusually light and we beat our estimate.  They hooked my wife up to a fetal heart rate monitor for 30 minutes.  Then, after the doctor checked her out, she was free to get in the birthing pool.  Labor progressed normally, and I got in the pool at noon.  Dr. Narinder had a few clinic patients to see to, but at noon, he started turning them away saying he was in a delivery.  And he was with us through the rest of labor.

From 12:30 onwards, Dr. Narinder and a midwife (sorry, I never got her name) were in the room.  Have you ever watched an outfielder in a baseball game?  Doctor and midwife were poised and ready at each contraction and then relaxed and waited during the lulls between, like an outfielder between pitches.  Dr. Narinder also gave play-by-play, part announcer and part coach, to help encourage my wife, “I can see the baby’s hair.”  “We’re really close.”  “You’re doing great.”


A sign in the delivery room that says "no photo or video taking"

No photo sign

Baby was born 2:00 on the dot.  I cut the cord (first out of 4 kids).  He was cleaned off and dried while we got out of the pool.  Not that I’m complaining because I wasn’t the star of the show, but the nurses wrapped up the new mommy and helped her get dry and onto the bed, and then I had to find myself a towel.

Some final thoughts

I recommend Dr. Narinder very highly.  He can be found at Island Hospital and you can call and make an appointment.

We were given an estimate of RM 8000 for the procedure, and subsequent follow up stay.  It was pretty close to what we ended up paying.  Pay with cash, because the credit card processing system has an upper limit of RM 3000 and I was hitting my limits on all my cards.  It was quite the headache and I ended up having to call a friend to get my wife and new son checked out.

Our happy family with a new addition.

Our happy family with a new addition

In an upcoming post I will be sharing about what I needed to do to get the baby a Malaysian Birth Certificate