Pregnancy can be a time of great unease, especially if it’s your first. Add to the mix a foreign country, a language you might not understand, and a medical system that favours caesareans, and it’s no wonder many expats decide to fly home or to neighbouring Singapore to deliver their baby. But experts and expats with experience of a natural birth in Jakarta would encourage staying put for a happy and healthy pregnancy and birth.
Browse any expat forum about giving birth in Jakarta, and you’ll come across countless suggestions of travelling to Singapore to deliver instead. This option will come with a hefty price tag and the inconvenience of having to fly four to five weeks prior to your due date – putting yourself up in a hotel for the entirety of your stay, not to mention recovery period.
Jodie is an expat from New Zealand, where she was a practising nurse and midwife. She currently resides in Jakarta and has helped women and their partners in the births of their babies. She believes Jakarta is a fine place to give birth.
“In my experience there’s no need to travel to Singapore because there are doctors in Jakarta who support natural births, which is always a challenge in a medical environment, and the disruption to family life is minimised, which is very significant for the emotional health and stability of a pregnant woman,” Jodie says.
Dr Sukardi Gozali is highly praised amongst expats as being in support of a natural birth. He runs his own private practice in Central Jakarta. Having attended medical school in the UK, with 20 years’ experience as a practitioner there, Dr. Gozali is able to provide a service that expats have come to expect in their home countries.
The word ‘doula’ refers to someone who offers emotional and physical support to a woman and her partner before, during and after childbirth. Studies have shown that when doulas attend births, labours are shorter with fewer complications, babies are healthier and they breastfeed easier.
Nujuh Bulan is a birthing education centre founded by Tia Pratignyo, a natural birth educator. “Our centre provides doula support, with English-speaking practitioners – doula Irma and doula Sinta – who can support expat clients in both hospital and home settings.
Where to deliver?
If you decide to give birth in a hospital or birthing centre, ask yourself these questions before the birth to avoid stress:
- How long does it take to get there during peak traffic (in case you go into labour during rush hours)?
- What are the facilities like? Ask to visit the birthing and recovery rooms.
- What are the admission or discharge processes like?
- How high are the caesarean rates? And will your partner be allowed in the operating room should you end up having a C-section?
An increasingly popular mind-body technique for those seeking a natural birth with more control and less pain than existing methods is sweeping across Indonesia, known as hypnobirthing. The technique aims to bring the mother into a state of total relaxation so as to stave off stress and reserve energy for when the time to push, or ‘bear down’ in hypnobirthing terms, arrives.
For English-speaking hypnobirthing classes, visit Nujuh Bulan’s website. You can also search online for downloadable recordings for home study, or ask your doula or midwife.
Unfortunately, for those favouring a water birth, this is currently illegal in Indonesia. Even celebrated midwife Ibu Robin Lim’s clinic in Bali has had to suspend this service until further notice.
Prenatal yoga and antenatal classes
Twice-weekly prenatal yoga classes run at Bikram 42 in Plaza Senayan Arcadia, and on Saturdays at their Kemang studio. Package rates are available.
Nujuh Bulan Studio in Bintaro focuses on yoga for expectant mothers and has an array of workshops that focus on a gentle, conscious birth, including breastfeeding and postpartum care, childbirth education, and even a couples yoga for the birth workshop. Classes are conducted in English.
Pilates is the perfect low-impact pregnancy workout, boosting flexibility and balance and preventing back pain by strengthening your pelvic floor and core muscles, supporting your spine. Jakarta City Centre Pilates offers affordable sessions with a personal trainer, prior- and post-pregnancy – an important time to bring the muscles back to their strength.
A wonderful Jakarta experience
Pooja Munshi is an Indian expat who moved from Paris a year ago and has recently given birth to a healthy baby girl in Jakarta.
She was so thrilled with her experience that she would come back to Jakarta should she ever get pregnant again.
Pooja’s baby was delivered by Dr Gozali at Bunda Hospital, supported by Jodie, in an incredibly short four-hour labour without any medical intervention. “Everything from active labour to placenta delivery was all natural. The Bunda Hospital staff were very accommodating with my birth plan.”
Pooja believes a natural and happy birthing experience is easily obtainable in Jakarta, but you first need to find a doctor who will support your interests. “Figure out if you want natural or a C-section, then pick a doctor who has your best interests in mind. Then find support, whether it’s a midwife or somebody that has recently given birth, who is strong and is able to support you in your vulnerable moments.”
Pooja was active throughout her pregnancy, doing yoga, swimming and pilates six days a week, which she believes is the main reason for her short and healthy natural birth. “When I went into labour, Jodie gave me reiki healing to move my baby into the right position.”
Indonesians are firm believers in the healing powers of herbs, and there are affordable at-home pre- and postpartum massage packages available to aid recovery, which would cost an arm and a leg in neighbouring Singapore.
“I wasn’t able to exercise for the first few weeks, so the massage and pampering made me feel so much better,” says Pooja, who opted for a 30-day package, which helped her body to recover faster. “And I didn’t get the baby blues!”
Dr. S. Gozali
Jl. Kebon Kacang 30 no. 12.
Tel: 021 314 3360 / 0811 8855 872
Nujuh Bulan Studio
Bikram Yoga 42
Jakarta City Centre Pilates
Postnatal massage therapy
Ibu Dian: 08128091810