PETALING JAYA: A guideline and audit framework to allow water birthing was in the final stage of formalisation, said the Health Ministry.
Its director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham said in a statement late Wednesday that patient safety was of paramount importance to the Ministry in regulating any birthing method.
He said hospitals that wish to provide water birth facilities and services may apply to the Ministry after the guidelines have been implemented.
“If they satisfactorily comply with the stipulated requirements, they may be allowed to provide this service,” he added.
Dr Hisham said the Ministry was aware that water birth had been practised in some private hospitals here for several years but there were concerns that more women were opting for such method.
Although the numbers were still small, it was important that this method must be proven safe for the mother and the baby.
He said this had led the Ministry to formalise a set of guidelines and audit to ensure the safety of women choosing water birthing as their mode of delivery.
He said the Ministry convened a meeting with a group of experts in 2013 to review the water birth practise in both local and international setting and found there were concerns of increased risk of complications.
“Furthermore, there is a significant gap in the local setting as water births are not part of the local training curricula of the advanced diploma in midwifery, nor in the training of obstetricians and gynaecologist in Malaysia,” he said.
Dr Hisham said some of the criteria proposed by the expert committee to be incorporated into the guidelines for water birth in hospitals included:
* the mothers’ pregnancy should be a straightforward pregnancy;
* the facility must have the ability to treat any emergency that may arise to either the mother or the baby during and after the process of labour;
* the facility must also have appropriate equipment (capable for underwater fetal monitoring) which can be used to monitor the progress of both mother and baby during the process of labour;
* all healthcare personnel including doctors, midwives and nurses involved in the process of water birth must have adequate training in the method; and
* necessary precautionary measures in place to reduce the risk associated with water birth, for instance infection control measures.
Bernama had quoted Health deputy director-general (medical) Datuk Dr Jeyaindran Sinnadurai as saying that water birthing would be prohibited until it was proven safe and beneficial for the mother.