Childbirth is one of the most important moments in life for a pregnant woman
Home births used to be a norm, whereby traditional midwives or a family member would assist a pregnant woman with the birth.
The World Health Report 2005 states that Malaysia has a "long-standing tradition of professional midwifery", which goes as far back as 1923.
These day, however, pregnant women prefer to seek professional services at government or private hospitals, registered health clinics, or government-approved maternity centres to avert a risk of complications during childbirth with the help of medically certified doctors, trained nurses, and midwives.
In fact, current stats show that only five out of 1,000 women give birth out of hospitals in Malaysia.
What scares people about childbirth nowadays is not the process but rather, the extremely high cost
As the medical field progressed, so did child and maternal healthcare programmes.
The quality of childbirth care in hospitals may be getting better, but that also means that fees for such services are on the rise too. Some people even think twice about having a baby, considering the initial costs involved from the prenatal stage up to childbirth.
Thankfully, the cost of childbirth at public hospitals is still quite pretty affordable, especially when compared to private hospitals
While people generally perceive that waiting times at public hospitals leave much to be desired, a Ministry of Health survey has also shown that they are confident of the public healthcare system and do not think that it is inferior to private practice.
In line with this, the Low Risk Birthing Centre (LRBC) or Pusat Bersalin Berisiko Rendah (PBBR) was established by the government to help reduce the problem of overcrowded obstetric facilities in government hospitals.
These centres are dedicated to low-risk pregnant women to have safe delivery and receive high quality care at a place that provides them with treatment, room, medicine, and food that are on par with first class ward facilities.
LRBCs are also run by experienced medical officers and trained nurses who abide by specific guidelines provided to ensure that each case handling is carried out in accordance to the established standards of public healthcare.
What's interesting is that fees at LRBCs are as little as RM3!
Admission deposit fees charged to the public is only at RM15, while the daily charges for a room is priced at RM3. Meanwhile, it's completely free for civil servants.
"Mothers are charged only RM3 for delivery including for treatment, room, medicine and food. This rate is probably the world's best," Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said back in 2012, when the first ever LRBC in Putrajaya was opened to public.
In contrast, it can easily cost up to a few thousands of ringgit for childbirth in a private hospital, after all fees are taken into account.
There are currently three LRBCs nationwide:
2. LRBC Hospital Tengku Ampuan Afzan, Kuantan, Pahang
3. LRB Alor Setar, Kedah
Based on the existing procedures to manage pregnant women at maternity clinics, low-risk expectant mothers are those who are classified with white tags on their pregnancy report book.
According to Kedah Health Department director Datuk Dr Norhizan Ismail, expectant mothers with green tag who meet the criteria required in the LRBC Guidelines are also allowed to deliver at LRBC.
In most cases, pregnant women would need to head over to a klinik kesihatan awam (public health clinic) for regular check-ups before they are referred to LRBC for having a good health record.
Low risk pregnant women would have to fulfil certain criteria as per the guidelines set by the LRBC to be eligible to use the facilities. Some of the criteria include having no history of complications in previous pregnancies and no history of medical diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, asthma, and cardiovascular disease, among others.