Happy family: Dr Teoh and his wife chose to have their son via a natural home birth process. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network
FOUR weeks ago, Xavier Teoh was born in the master bedroom of his parents’ Housing Board flat.
Not because it was an emergency. His parents chose to have their first-born at home.
“Why should we make something natural, unnatural?” said his father, Dr Teoh Ren Shang, a senior resident physician at Ang Mo Kio Community Hospital.
“Hospitals are not as intimate and familiar as the home, where you are in control of the atmosphere.”
While home births remain a small minority – 104 out of about 40,000 live births took place in a residence last year – the trend seems to be catching on.
Last year’s figure was the highest in at least a decade, during which the number of home births generally ranged between 60 and 80 a year.
But the association involved in training obstetricians and gynaecologists in Singapore, and which sets standards for them, warned that unassisted home births are “unsafe and should be avoided”.
The Teohs did have an obstetrician with them – Dr Lai Fon-Min – who is also a gynaecologist, and has his own private practice.
Still, the College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists said that even planned home births may pose a risk to both mother and child.
Problems such as post-delivery bleeding, for instance, may arise.
Such a situation would require “immediate access to resources in the hospital ... regardless of the expertise of the attendant”, the college said in a statement.
The college’s president, Dr Tan Hak Koon, said any decision to give birth at home must take into consideration the possibility of unexpected complications, even for mothers “without any known obstetric risk factors”. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network