Gynae: Number of weird requests are going up
Dr Kenneth Wong remembers desperate couples who cannot conceive, teenage pregnancies and miscarriages
Gynaecologist Kenneth Wong is responsible for helping usher life into this world.
Lately, Dr Wong has had more patients asking for alternative childbirth methods, such as giving birth at home and water births, in which delivery is done in a birthing pool.
Dr Wong says water births, in particular, are getting more popular now because of online claims that it is more comfortable for the mother.
Says the doctor from Obgyn Centre at Paragon Medical Suites: "The numbers are not high, but the numbers of these weird requests are going up every year.
"We try to accommodate, and I have done a few water births. But the fact remains, the only proponents (of these methods) are those on the Internet who want to sell things."
Dr Wong believes this trend stems from the wrong mindset that he sees in many of his patients.
"Thanks to all the medical intervention in Singapore, infant mortality is now less than half a percent here. It used to be much higher. So now, people are saying, 'Oh, maybe I want to give birth my way'.
"Childbirth has become so safe that it has become a lifestyle choice."
This is the wrong approach as the safety of the child and mother should come first, he adds sternly.
Water births can be risky for the baby because of the risk of drowning, and may also lead to complications later, such as water retention.
It is a conviction that he holds dear. After all, he has seen his fair share of tragedies since graduating from medical school in 1993.
High on his list of heartbreaking anecdotes are those of desperate couples who cannot conceive, teenage pregnancies and miscarriages.
He declines to reveal more about the cases, citing doctor-patient confidentiality.
Says Dr Wong: "I don't try to forget them. I know that the vast majority of tragedies are not preventable.
"It pays to have experience in this job, to know how to pick up the pieces when the patient can't and steer them away from the downward spiral. I think that is important."
There is still hope for many of these difficult cases, he adds.
"I've taken people from when they are unable to conceive, solved that issue through surgery, (helped) them get pregnant and then delivered the baby within the year.
"It is a very long journey from beginning to the end, and for me, this is the most rewarding thing," he says.
Dr Wong, who comes from a family of doctors, also has to deal with inside jokes from other doctors about gynaecologists.
Says the doctor, laughing: "We are very used to doing keyhole surgery, so people make jokes about how everything we do is 'tunnel vision'.
"And of course, people also tell the tired 'holes' joke all the time. Without going into the vulgar side of it, yes, people do use Hokkien to express what we do with holes."
SECRETS OF THE TRADE
1 Be prepared that the job will be your social life. You may have to set aside everything else and rush off to attend to a patient.
2 Be a good communicator to better understand what your patients are going through. Pregnancy can be highly stressful to many people.
3 Pregnancy is highly complex, both emotionally and medically. Never assume that every patient who passes through the clinic door is the same or will behave the same way.