Delivering a baby in Malaysia
My wife and I live in Singapore where a typical "delivery package" aka maternity package is at least 5000SGD.
In Petaling Jaya, Malaysia where my wife is from, the cost is at least 3500MYR in a private hospital. That's a quarter of the cost of Singapore. Serious money saving.
Our money saving venture was offset by the fact we we had to buy a lot of duplicate things since we can't truck up all our stuff from Singapore.
Choosing Columbia Asia Hospital PJ aka CAHPJ
We bussed up from Singapore when my wife was 32 weeks pregnant to find the gynaecologist and hospital to have our child with.
We chose a relatively new hospital Columbia Asia PJ after checking out KPJ Demansara. After meeting with Dr Nicholas at Columbia Asia we felt confident enough to proceed. Tbh we had an appointment at Pantai Bangsar but we didn't fancy spending another 200MYR for an appointment with the gynaecologist just to ascertain if we trusted him and the facility, when we were happy with Dr Nicholas. Another reason we chose CAHPJ is that my mother in law was recently admitted to CAHPJ with dengue fever and had a positive experience.
The weeks before delivery
Most staff at CAHPJ seem a bit blur and we dreaded the finance department. They would take almost longer to figure out our bill and make payment than the appointment itself. Our Maybank card worked on alternate visits and no one seemed to have a clue what was going wrong.
Another slightly worrying thing was the amount of mosquitoes around. I killed several myself and complained to staff in person and by email. Later whilst leaving the hospital they were fogging vigorously, so I guess they are dealing with it. Would be nice if they actually responded to my complaints.
Another quite significant issue is the wireless guest Internet. It's one of those ill conceived systems where you need to login and it will redirect you to facebook initially to Like their page. A terrible idea and a terrible user experience. Furthermore every port beside 80 or 443 seems blocked, so forget about Facetiming your loved ones on their Internet. I complained several times to no avail. So I relied on Celcom which had a weak 4G signal.
So on the Doctors advice we decided to induce the baby on the 14th of October. This involves coming to the hospital at 10PM and for my wife to take a hormonal drug to trigger child birth the next morning.
The disconcerting thing was at that time of night, you need to "check in" in the emergency section of the hospital which I'm wary is a very very stressful place. To make matters worse the "slow" staff then put us through a lengthy check in process when we would rather get the hell out of that emergency room.
Another complaint from my wife was when she was vulnerable in her hospital in the delivery room, she has to sign off a lot of bueracratic nonesense for organ release etc etc. We wish these forms were presented to us earlier!
Tbh it went really well and I thought Dr Nicholas did an excellent job. The nurses at times seemed a bit inexperienced, but Dr Nicholas held court and managed the situation very well.
It was quite an experience to see the TOCO meter displaying the intensity of my wife's contractions. I was quite worried she couldn't take the pain, so I was actually keen on lining up the epidural, though since I guess she was induced, things actually happened quite quickly. Which is good thing!
When the baby popped out at 12:40, I wasn't keen on cutting the cord and stuff. Tbh I was actually keen on seeing the baby being cleaned up but I was not allowed to enter the adjacent nursery despite my newborn child being the only child in the facility at the time. Oh well, I had to trust someone to look after the baby at some point.
The next thing I was completely unprepared for, was going downstairs to sit in front of a finance minion to register my newborn as a patient. I was elated and tired at the same time, so I am grateful that my sister-in-law was coherent to look through all the forms and such, because I was in no mood for bureaucracy!
The stay at the hospital
The food was surprisingly good for hospital food. I slept on a window seat next to my wife which wasn't comfortable tbh. However the private room et al was fine really. When I got bored of the food I walked over to Jaya one which has a fairly good Noodle house restaurant on one corner and a well stocked Cold Storage on the other.
We were both actually pretty tired and the trouble with hospitals is that you are constantly being interrupted by some check up or visit or another. It was a little extra complicated since my wife was following confinement food and such, which involved a mother in law and several aunts.
Another annoying disturbance was that staff seemed to have some notification going on their mobiles all the time which I don't think is remotely professional. They must have their mobiles on silent. No audible vibration.
Since CAHPJ wifi sucks, relying on 4G internet which sometimes worked depending which leg you stood on, made me also want to get out the hospital ASAP.
Breast is best
Well actually my wife had a hard time producing milk or getting a latch which was extremely stressful. In hindsight we are actually extremely bloody normal, but it was a little worrying that the baby was being fed some "formula". Maybe my stress levels could have been better managed.
Nonetheless we found our pediatrician Dr Aida comforting and good. My wife was thinking of spending another day at the hospital to get more confident with breast feeding. I'm glad we decided not to.
So typical delivery packages are 3 days and 2 nights. But what were not made aware of is that check out time is 12 noon. They don't tell you that and invariably we fell outside the package whilst leaving on the 16th. So they charged us for a further half a day and related charges.
To rub salt in the wounds the finance department took more than an hour to produce the bill and some more time for the minion to actually tell us what certain extra charges were for. The packages don't account for incidentals, drugs or any extra treatments and they typically won't tell you at the time such and such is extra very clearly. Estimates are always on the low end. It's not actually a "all in one" package.
In the following days we felt fortunate that our baby didn't suffer any acute jaundice symptoms. We heard it's typical that parents have to bring back their child for UV treatment which is never included in the packages.
We are very happy with our decision to have our baby at CAHPJ with Dr Nicholas and Dr Aida. I detail my complaints with the hospital on this blog in the hope that maybe they will actually fix the service & internet issues to meet my expectations. The doctors are great, CAHPJ could be managed better. Nonetheless I highly recommend the CAHPJ and delivering your baby there.