I went for one of my routine pre-natal visits with the midwife today. It was my third time there and still, I'm amazed at how different the experience is from what goes on in Malaysia.
Firstly, since I'm going through the public system, it was absolutely free. And each visit, my waiting time was no more than 15 minutes (this morning only 5 minutes).
Just over three years ago, when I first got pregnant with Aaron in Kuala Lumpur and went in search of a good obstetrician, I ended up waiting 3 hours or more for a mere 10 minutes with the doctor each time. And, it regularly cost over RM100 per visit. (The public system there is definitely not where you want to be hence the hunt for a doctor.) The majority of doctors there are still very old school in terms of birthing practices with episiotomies still routine and mandatory delivery in the supine position. Thankfully, I did find a doctor that was much more supportive of natural birth and definitely more reasonably priced.
Also, midwives in Malaysia play a very small role. In fact, I only interacted with the midwife during the final 30 mins of labour with Aaron. And she wasn't all that much help even then. I like what I hear from the midwives here so far. They have been very helpful and friendly during the routine visits and supposedly, they stay with you throughout labour and provide a lot of guidance. Imagine that! Well, I'll reserve any more raving about them until after I have the baby but it certainly sounds like a more helpful situation to be in than what I had with Aaron.
The thing that makes me most happy about the system here is the emphasis on breastfeeding and the support around it. Today, I asked if I could have some time with the baby after birth to nurse before they take it away to do whatever, if the baby could be kept with me at all times they need to do and about how much they 'pushed' formula feeding. She just looked at me with what I imagined to be an expression of disbelief over how silly my questions were. She was nice about it though and explained that they will hand over the baby and encourage you to nurse, and the baby stays with mum at all times. They have lactation consultants on hand and also available at no charge for the first month after birth. They were also promoting lots of skin-to-skin contact with the baby. All the things that I had to specifically request when I had Aaron!
Anyway, my experiences with the public health system so far certainly makes me feel better about the taxes I have to pay in Australia. I hope it stays that way....