Natural birth in Taiwan?


Does anyone know a Doctor who either supports natural labour or can do home births?

I am hearing too many stories from expats who didn’t have a great experience at hospitals. Some doctors are great but the nurses and routines that hospitals are used to are not so great. They all speed up births, ignore birthing plans among other things…


My wife (taiwanese) is having our baby within a week (we hope) at Changung Hospital. She knows that Taiwan has a bad rep for too many c-sections, that a c-section should not be performed unless absolutely necessary and natural birth is preferable and she definitely does not want a c-section. She also feels confident that her doc shares her feelings. The doc seems good and responsible. We’ve also been assured that I’ll be allowed in the room to obseve the birth (I haven’t asked yet if I can videotape it). So far I have no reason to disbelieve the doc. But only time will tell if the doc was being truthful.

I thought waterbirth sounded pretty cool, and I met a Polish woman in Taipei (with Taiwanese husband) who did a water birth. I tried to talk my wife into that but she said our bathtub is too dirty. :? Oh well, so much for my champion swimmer offspring.

As for speeding up the birth, what do you think of this? My wife said that one of her sisters was given drugs to induce labor because the doc told her after the water breaks the baby must be delivered within 24 hours. True?

Oh, you might also want to check out or something like that, whose banner sometimes appears on this site. I’ve forgotten the exact url but a google search should reveal it.

[quote=“Mother Theresa”]As for speeding up the birth, what do you think of this? My wife said that one of her sisters was given drugs to induce labor because the doc told her after the water breaks the baby must be delivered within 24 hours. True?

I’m not sure as to ‘must’, but I think it’s recommended because once the waters break the baby is no longer in a sterile (amniotic sac) enviroment, and hence is at risk of infection etc.

Personally, after an entire night of non-progressive labour I just wanted to GET ON WITH IT - but then I don’t believe in unnecessary pain for the thrill of a drug-free labour :slight_smile:


Just to be safe you might want to be more prepared than this? If the Doctor is fine, I certainly don’t know about the nurses. Below was taken from a WHO inspector two years ago in Taiwan.

I would just suggest that you have a birthing plan and discuss and agree on it with your Doctor. If the nurses/technicians try anything against the plan, you will need to act as an “Advocate” for your wife and say no if they try and do something she is unhappy with. She will be too vulnerable to say anything herself.

How can I get in touch with this Polish lady you mention? Who was the midwife who helped? You can email me on


From Former Director of WHO on visit to Taiwan…

  • The WHO recommended rate for induced or augmented labor is 10 percent. In Taiwan the rate is 63 percent.

  • Women are given powerful drugs which lead to rapid contractions of the uterus without being told that when a woman’s uterus contracts too quickly, it can lead to suffocation of the infant and a rupture of the uterus.

  • Another dubious achievement is the number of episiotomies performed. The WHO’s suggested rate is 10 percent whereas in Taiwan that rate is nearly 100 percent. That was the rate in many developed countries 25 years ago, but medical research has shown that episiotomies do more damage to a woman than if she tore naturally during labor.

  • Episiotomies will make a women rip more, which leads to increased pain and bleeding. After delivery, there are complications such as incontinence and more pain during sex. Women in Taiwan are not told this nor are they given the choice to not be cut open.

  • Another problem with the maternity-care system is that midwives have been pushed out by the gynecologists. In the countries with the lowest fatality rate for women and children during birth, midwives are accompanying women throughout the entire childbirth process

How exciting, MT. That went pretty quick! I know exactly which Polish mother you’re talking about because they participate in our playgroup.

There is the possibly of infection, as d’girl says, but there’s really no time limit on that. It could be hospital policy though so you might want to ask your doctor if it is, if that’s important to you. This worry about infection is why some doctors tend to rush mothers through labor and delivery, that and maybe they have somewhere else to be :confused:

Hmmm, you might want to clarify what you mean by the above MT. Was your SIL’s bag of waters broken to start labor? Or did the water bag break and then the doc wanted to speed contractions up so they gave her drugs? There’s a difference. You don’t want the doc to break the bag because that water provides a “cushion” during labor, making the contractions more manageable. And then getting pitocin to stimulate and “speed up” contractions isn’t recommended by The Crunchy Ones because they tend to be much more powerful and intense, resulting in a more tired and frustrated mother, sometimes leading to other interventions. Remember I’m not a doctor or midwife but I think it should be avoided unless you’re absolutely sure labor isn’t “progressing”.

Different women will progress at different rates. You have some women who might be in “labor” (maybe not active labor but having contractions) for several days, some get to transition and have a very long rest period (again here is where some doctors think it’s just not progressing when more likely, her body is just taking a much-needed break for the pushing), and then there are those lucky mamas who spit them out in 2 hours, start to finish. Sigh.

Anyway, to answer VAB’s question, there are a few doctors I know of who do support natural childbirth. Jean Chang and Bernice Chen at Chung Shan are two doctors who are pretty popular, and the older gentleman who attended my third child’s birth at Adventist (he’s no longer there though). I’m sure there are others that Chinese families see.

There is one male doctor who is involved with the La Leche League who, I’ve heard, is supportive of home birth but he’s not in Taipei; it might be down south. Contacting the Taiwan Breastfeeding Association might get you some leads.

I’ve had three unmedicated births, two here, in hospitals. One last thought, I learned recently from another Forumosan that the pastor’s wife at Grace Baptist Church has had homebirths here. You could always call and see how she was able to arrange this.

Hope this helps some and I didn’t just make you more anxious.

Sending you her email address now.

Re episiotomies: I specified no episiotomy with my two births here and the doctors had no problem with it. Very slight tear this last time that was nothing compared to having an episiotomy. Don’t be afraid to tell your doctor if you don’t want one.

Good point. . . although it’s a little late for us now. The baby’s due any day now. I’m sure all will work out fine, although a water birth would’ve been good.

So what’s on a birthing plan other than no episiostomy, no drugs, able to walk around or choose any position, husband can stay in the room, husband can film/photo?

Friend of my boss that I met a year ago. I’ll ask my boss next week and let you know.

Another terrible statistic re Taiwan and totally unsurprising. I read about teh cut/don’t cut controversy and got the feeling there is disagreement. My wife believes cutting results in less tearing. I guess I’ll do a little internet search on that for her.

I would’ve preferred a water/home birth, but this is Taiwan, my wife and her whole family are Taiwanese. I never had a choice. If one goes to the hospital for a sneeze, surely one will go for childbirth.

Well, you appear to be right braxtonhicks. I learned to spell episiotomy, looked it up and the evidence does seem to be against it. Found a good article on that subject and other

I’d agree with this - having had one intervention, I pretty much then went on to have all of them (bar the caesarean, thank goodness :slight_smile: ) Which wouldn’t have been my choice, but that’s how it went.

One word of warning - birthing plan or not, be prepared that things mightn’t go the way you want/expect. I have a friend, a nurse/midwife who knew exactly what she was in for, who had her whole program set - no drugs, breathing, hypnosis, massage, natural labour etc. Accordingly, she chose an obstetrician she had worked with who believed in natural birth, and in fact was married to a midwife. She actually coped very well with labour, but as it turned out, there were several complications due to the shape of her uterus and the baby’s position and tolerance for the contractions, and although the doctor let her go as long as he could in the end she had to have an emergency caesarean. She was upset about it, but sometimes that’s the way it is - remember that unless you’re a doctor you really can’t give a valid judgement at the time as to whether intervention is medically necessary (as opposed to convenient). It’s about trusting your doctor.

Good luck everyone!

Very true!!! Rarely will everything go as planned, so if you can get a few things as you’d like them (according to your birth plan), no point worrying about what didn’t go as planned. I know a few women who had the birth tub and everything and found that they couldn’t stand being in the water… all together now, “every woman/birth is different” :laughing:

Hi MT - In reply to your comment, “So what’s on a birthing plan other than no episiostomy, no drugs, able to walk around or choose any position, husband can stay in the room, husband can film/photo?”

My understanding (and I am still pregnant with first so no first hand experience yet!) is hospitals may tell you one thing but something else happens - baby supposed to be with Mum for one hour but sometimes nurses will simply intervene and take baby away for check up after ten minutes and not return baby for a few hours. If Mum requests breastfeeding, hospital may still REGARDLESS give the baby sugar water, thereby making breastfeeding more difficult. Lots of little things like this. Trainees and nurses walking in and out of birthing room without much consideration for patient’s privacy. I can’t help but feel that a baby is conceived in intimacy and love and should be delivered this way too. And my impression of nurses (not Doctors for the most part) is that they overlook too many needs and emotions for the Mum when she is very vulnerable and needs lots of support.

Good luck to you both and I wish you a very safe and healthy delivery and baby :slight_smile:

With contractions at 3 min apart, my wife and I went to the hospital last night at 9. Screw natural childbirth, by early this morning she wanted the damn epidural. And I can’t say I blame her. Her back was hurting like hell with each contraction, as the books say, and the epidural brought great relief (my sister in law told me she had no epidural for her first, but was glad she did for her second). I slept on couch in hospital room and this morning the doc said maybe the baby will come at noon or this afternoon. I better get back to the hospital. :moo:

Hey, don’t you have better things to concern yourself with than posting? :laughing:

I do think the idea of natural childbirth is a good ideal for those willing to go that way, and people have said they got a big sense of achievement out of it, but after doing extensive research I demanded an epidural for both of mine. My attitude is, what’s the point of having all this wonderful access to low-risk technology, and not using it? I did wait and see, but seeing as I felt I had pretty much reached my pain tolerance the first time around even before anything actually started happening I opted for one sooner rather than later :slight_smile: Many women can’t properly comprehend how incredibly and unrelentingly painful it can be until they’re there and many who plan for natural births change their minds. Of course, it’s different for everyone, and some women I know said it really wasn’t that bad for them. And some of them said by the time they wanted an epidural, it was too bloody late! As far as I’m concerned, if you end up with a healthy mum and baby you’ve done well - you don’t get marked on endurance :slight_smile:

Waiting to hear the news!

Ah, MT…you didn’t give her any Italian food from Alleycat’s, did you? Isn’t there some kind of correlation between oregano and the onset of labor? In any case, a pre-congratulations to you and I hope everything went well.

Thanks. No Italian food but our final meal out, on Saturday afternoon, was a good dimsum.

Went to the hospital at 9 pm on Saturday, spent the night there, by Sunday she had asked for an epidural (it’s a little hard to blame her – I used to take stuff like that for kicks, she was in genuine pain), she asked for more epidural, I cautioned against it, I was pleased that the nurse (Changun Hospital is swarming with nurses who look like college freshmen and assistants of some kind who look like high school girls) summoned the anesthesiologist who came back and advised against more drugs (so they only raised her level slightly), then sometime on Sunday they started giving her a drug to induce labor (Oxytocin?), so she was on the two of them for a few hours. Not the way I would’ve done it, but as I said, my wife and all her family are Taiwanese – sometimes it’s useless trying to suggest a different way (funny how “unorthodox” medical procedures are ok if they involve ancient Chinese recipes for endangered animal parts or sticking needles in ones body but its blasphemy to suggest deviation from some archaic Western practices).

Sunday afternoon an older nurse (college sophomore?) comes in and helps her to “practice pushing.” Of course all this is lying flat on her back. I’ve read, and it seems clear that other positions would probably be easier (squatting in particular), and I ask a few times about different positions but might as well be talking to a wall. Finally the doc comes in (maybe 50 yr-old lady), says its time, they suddenly wheel her out while I’m scrambling for my camera. By the time I’ve donned my green outfit, hat and mask and enter the delivery room, the episiotomy has been performed (I tried to convince against taht as well but. . .), and no sooner do I take my place by my wife’s head then the doc has sucked the baby out with a vacuum. 22 hours of waiting and 5 minutes of delivery, if that.

Anyway, to make a long story short, I’m the proud father of a healthy, 3.6 kg baby girl, the first in my family, born at 7 pm on Sunday. I think all the drugs were a bad idea, may have prolonged the labor, made it harder for my wife to push (even her calves were numb – how could she contract her stomach?), gave her a terrible headache, may have led to the decision to use a vacuum (leaving a big red mark on the head), a squatting position would’ve surely been better, and then after the baby’s born the bastards take it away and act as though they’re giving special privileges allowing you to see her. In short, Changung Hospital is a baby factory. Get 'em in, get 'em out. Snip and vacuum. Whatever it takes. If I were a woman I wouldn’t go through that bullshit; I’d do it at home with a midwife.

But that’s all in the past. My wife’s fine. The baby’s fine. Life will never be the same. :smiley:

All the very best MT. Congratulations!

Wow! Welcome sweet Emily and congrats Mr&Mrs MT!!! I’m sorry it was so traumatic for your wife and baby (you too it seems) but you’re right, it’s in the past.

Remember, if she needs breastfeeding support, there are two entire forums full (sort of) people eager to help, including

Thanks. :blush:

I meant that in the best way, you know, 'cause you’re crunchier than I expected. :sunglasses:

MT, Congratulations! :smiley:

BTW, I think [color=violet]Forumosa[/color] would be a lovely middle name for your daughter. Just saying… :wink: