Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Childbirth Hearsay

Life here in Indonesia is really so different from the life I was exposed to prior to coming here.

I've mentioned before that there are so many people that are poor here. There are poor people everywhere but I just feel that I come across sad stories so much more often here in Palembang than in the other places I've lived. I heard some things today, but I haven't checked the information with other sources. After all, I'm not writing for CNN or BBC., just The Milk Bar. Its an account of what I encountered today.

I heard that if you go to a hospital to have your baby and then are unable to pay the bill. They send you home but keep the baby there until you pay up. Of course, there are consequences all over the world if you don't pay the bill but I've never heard first hand accounts of such things before. The average bill for a normal and unassisted delivery is supposedly about IRP700,000 (USD 76). The problem is that for many of those poor families, their monthly pay is only about IRP400,000 or less. And all that money goes to their daily life. How would they ever save up the money to have (and then look after) a baby?

Carrying on the topic of childbirth, I also heard about the women who opt for delivery by a traditional midwife. These are usually home births of course. I can understand that cost would be a factor in choosing this option but to my surprise, there was another reason. Supposedly, some women choose to give birth this way because they won't get stitched up afterwards. Yes, they do not want the stitches because there are supposedly a lot of horror stories circulating about women who had their babies in 'birth centers' (a cheaper option to hospitals) where they received their stitches without anesthetic. YIKES! Maybe the anesthetic costs extra....

Two years ago, an Indonesian maid in Malaysia told me that after she had her babies, her abdomen was wrapped in several meters of cloth. I think she mentioned that this is partly to push your body (inside and out) back to shape. Also, her big toes were tied together for a month so that her legs were forced together. NOW, after today's new info, I'm wondering if she had her toes tied together because she had the extremely natural delivery and recovery process.

Childbirth is a scary enough thought for an average person but imagine if you're young, poor and married off at 15?


egan said...

I think I sighed deeply three times during this post. I wouldn't wish any of this on anyone. The stitching up a mom thing is really wrong. I have horrible images in my head surrounding this.

Wow, thanks for enlightening us.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

I'm glad it's not my problem!

John said...

No wonder there were so many Indonesians working on the cruise ship. They work for just tips but also get room and board on the ship. I think, "Who would work for just tips?" never imagining the poor conditions that they are used to living in.

Mike said...

"where they received their stitches without anesthetic"

Sounds like what happens in the old movies when a cowboy got shot and they were going to cut the bullet out. To handle the pain they would give him a drink of whiskey and stick to bite down on.