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This island is one of the most perfect places to have a baby. It is only natural, however, as a foreigner, to be cautious about how it might go, well, you need not be. Koh Phangan and neighbouring Koh Samui is well equipped for you to deliver your baby.
With its calming lifestyle, clear air, jungle, beach, trees and, oh the list could go on, you are sure to enjoy a beautiful pregnancy here. You can watch this video below from our Editor Emma about Being Pregnant on Koh Phangan, where she talks about the benefits, healthcare, climate and all the perks and things you might be questioning if you are pregnant whilst you are here.
If you would like to have tests and check-ups during your pregnancy then you have a couple of options. Koh Phangan Government Hospital have a small clinic where they can do scans and check heartbeats etc. Your other option is to go to an Obstrenic Clinic on Koh Samui just a 30-minute boat ride from Koh Phangan.
It is one of the most important days of your life. You are probably already planning like mad for those first weeks and days with a newborn, you also will want to plan for the big day, whenever that may arise. You will need to decide what kind of birth you want and so firstly we will talk about…
It is a grey area on whether Homebirth is considered ‘legal’ here in Thailand. With that being said, hundreds of women living in remote parts of the Country in villages give birth there, rather than the hospital. It will probably be very normal and customary within their village to do this and probably they might be far from a hospital.
If you are going for check-ups during pregnancy your doctor or obstetrician will probably advise you to give birth in a hospital. It is their job.
We do know people who have had homebirths on Koh Phangan (quite a few in fact, including our Editor Emma). Those of which have been beautiful and importantly, safe experiences.
Usually, mothers to be will bring a midwife into Thailand from outside the country who specialises in homebirths, or they may be lucky enough that a midwife is visiting the island and willing to work on the expected birth date.
From our first-hand experience when bringing a midwife for a home birth you will get the much-needed before and aftercare for the new Mother and Father. The midwife will often give you classes running up to the birth and prepare you well for the birth and what is to come. They may also stay with you after the birth to help with breastfeeding, bathing and all the other important sweet first time moments. Homebirth is usually without any pain relief or medicines, a more natural approach is taken with homoeopathic treatments such as massage and breathing techniques. This should be something you consider when choosing if this approach will suit you.
Unfortunately, you will not be able to find any Thai midwives for a home birth. Delivering with a midwife used to be common procedure until the government began constructing more hospitals in the 1970s and childbirth went down the more Americans route of Obstrenics. The only midwives in practice now either operate in clinics or reside in rural places, far from public healthcare.
This is why people bring midwives from outside of the country for a homebirth and so this is the concern of the ‘grey area’.
To obtain your babies birth certificate for a homebirth you must visit your local Amphur office. We would recommend that the Father does this job as it needs to be done within one week if you don’t want to have to pay. You can go later but they might charge you 1000 Baht.
You get a form from the office which needs to be signed by the leader of your village, your landlord can usually and happily help you with this task. Once the form has been filled out you take it back to the office where you will then be given your Baby’s Thai birth certificate.
It is possible to have a natural delivery at Koh Phangan Government Hospital. The other hospitals (private) on the island will send you to Koh Samui. When delivering at Koh Phangan Hospital you should expect a rather basic service, the nurses are there for you and a doctor will come if there is a problem. From our source, you will need to stay for 4 days after the delivery of your baby and of course, you will have to pay. No family are allowed in and so you will be alone for the majority of time apart from a couple of 5-minute visits.
Most women from Koh Phangan who choose to give birth in the hospital go to Koh Samui. It is advised to go and stay/relocate to Samui in the weeks leading up to the birth so you won’t have to get a boat over during labour but it is possible to get a speedboat or even normal ferry on the day. This is something you need to decide about, what feels comfortable for you.
You have options for birth depending on your budget and needs.
This hospital is a popular choice because of its close proximity to the island’s Obstrecian which you may already be in touch with throughout pregnancy. Usually, for a natural delivery, you are placed in the ward with up to 6 other women and moved into the delivery room with the delivery team when you are pushing. No men are allowed in either of these rooms. Nathon Hospital tries to promote a truly natural delivery without pain relief but they can give minor help if needed.
After delivery you can either go into a private room for 2000 - 3500 Baht per night or stay on the ward with the other women and their babies, you will need to stay in the hospital for a few days.
Baby is always taken from you and placed in a nursery for 2 hours immediately after birth for observation. Again, there will be a cost involved but if you are planning then you can usually buy some sort of package beforehand.
Private hospitals are a convenient choice for foreigners for childbirth, largely because they will speak better English and many doctors spend their workweek at both public and private hospitals. The biggest differences, between the hospitals, isn’t the doctors, but rather the equipment, wait times, convenience, delivery choices, and prices. Private hospitals also offer more perks, like cosy rooms, better food, or the rights of the father to be in the delivery room.
Of course, the cost might be considerably larger than for the Government Hospital but the experience may be more intimate and comfortable for you, again you can check each hospital and their packages.
You can visit the delivery wards of hospitals on a tour and just in case, the NICU. It might help with your decision making to ask questions.
Note, in Thailand, birth may not necessarily be handled in the same manner as it is in your home country. You're best off learning what to expect ahead of time, so on the big day, you're not disappointed.
Here are a few substantial questions to ask:
Will your insurance policy provider work with this hospital?
Are special programs for high-risk pregnancy available?
(natural and C-section) Who will be in the space during delivery?
Do they offer pain relief?
Is your partner allowed to remain overnight with you?
Does it give private rooms at the hospital? For a private room, do I have to pay extra?
By answering these general questions and more, you will get a clear feel for a hospital and its employees.
If you have complications then you will be advised to have a C-section, this is what the practice is there for. However, it is also very common for Women to actually choose to have a cesarean in Thailand. Nearly one out of every three babies are born this way.
If you need to have a C-section then you will have to go to Koh Samui as Koh Phangan’s Government Hospital cannot do this. Your options are the same as natural birth on Koh Samui as above. Nathon Hospital or Private Hospitals.
Things to note: You will have to stay longer in all hospitals as you will need more time to recover. Also, the cost goes up considerably.
For the baby's birth certificate they will give you a hospital letter to take to the local Tessaban in Nathon. With that letter and Mum and Dad's passports, you then get the official Thai Birth certificate. Again, as with homebirth, there is a number of days you should do this by so as to not get charged. Nathon Hospital has a foreign liaison team who are very helpful with this process. We believe it will be similar to Private Hospitals.
Although it is rare to find midwives on Koh Phangan you will be able to find Doulas who can be a great help for your pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period. Especially as you may not be around family such as your own Mother here, this is where the support of a Doula can come in.
The duty of a doula is to provide a continual source of warmth, motivation and assistance during childbirth (both emotional and physical). A doula does not have medical qualifications, instead, she is there to act as a supportive voice with expertise, assist in soothing strategies and breathing exercises, give guidance on labour positions and more. A doula may also serve as a mediator and an intermediary to interfere with healthcare employees, interpret medical terminology and clarify procedures. The only problem here in Thailand is that it is not uncommon for the Father even not to be allowed in the room during birth at hospitals and so, in this case, your doula will not either, BUT they can still provide you with the support in other areas you might like.
Your doula will teach you about the labour and childbirth phase before your due date, helping to make things less scary and more relaxed so that you are encouraged to take a more involved role in your pregnancy. A doula will deliver a treasure chest of non-medical methods for pain relief, including meditation, reflexology, aromatherapy, music and mantras; he or she can strive to locate the best remedy for you in various variations.
A successful doula will also help boost the support of your partner and also assist him or her to relax, which would allow you to relax in exchange.
We know a few doulas living on Koh Phangan, both Thai and Western, you should meet and talk with them to find the one that is right for you.
Koh Phangan is ideal for you to recover from childbirth, unlike in the Western world there is no pressure to be up and about moving around here more than you need to. You have just been through one of the biggest days of your life and have been growing a tiny human for nearly ten months and so it’s going to take more than a couple of days for you to heal.
Your uterus will need to shrink back to its normal size, you will be tired and your milk will come in for breastfeeding. Recovering here means you will get more of that important bonding time with your baby with less interference from visitors (which may be one of the reasons you live here anyway!). The weather is pleasant with the most beautiful nature around you, you can bring someone for a massage if needed and eat amazing food to help you heal.
If you require post-partum check-ups then you can do this at Phangan Government Hospital or the Obstrecian on Koh Samui. For a home-birth, this is something the midwife should do in the days after the birth.
Koh Phangan has a supportive network of Mothers and Fathers with children of all ranges. Families have grown on Koh Phangan and more people are choosing to raise children here and give birth. As is the case in every area of the world, Mothers to be and new mums will often gravitate towards each other and will organically form a little support network for each other. Many ladies will reach out to other mums and you will be amazed at the generosity and kindness of these people. There are many meetups for new and experienced Mums such as lunches or swimming and it is likely you will all share a like-minded way of thinking that is harder to find elsewhere.
Away from the busy life of the rest of the world, far from cities, grey smoke and vehicles, Koh Phangan is idyllic for having a baby. You are surrounded by lush tropical jungle, sandy beaches and turquoise ocean, shallow waters and waterfalls to cool down in and a relaxed way of life. Is this not what everyone would dream of for those first days, weeks or months of having their child? It is heaven on earth to some people and perfect for the important firsts of your newborn.
Nature has a great way of healing and you can relax in peace and also a safe environment. Thailand is very baby-friendly and you will find that the staff in restaurants may even offer to look after your baby whilst you eat. Your little one will become part of many families here and be surrounded by a wonderful international community.