The police have begun an investigation into the death of a baby following a homebirth under the supervision of a doula (birth coach) at a house in Johor Bahru recently.
State police chief Mohd Khalil Kader Mohd said the police had received a report lodged over the incident, as well as from a 30-year-old woman alleged to have been the doula.
“Indeed, there have been a lot of statements on Facebook (FB) on this incident... the woman who is said to be the doula has also made a police report, denying the allegation on her involvement, which led to the baby’s death.
“We have also referred to the baby's family but their preliminary statements did not mention (the service of) doula. So, we have begun a thorough investigation based on statements on FB,” he told reporters at the Johor police contingent headquarters in Johor Bahru today.
Mohd Khalil said the police were awaiting a report from the mother, who was currently going through confinement in her hometown, as they wanted to give some space before taking her statement again.
“We could not meet the baby’s mother last night as she was resting. We did not want to pressure her because we want to know exactly what transpired.
“We will also record a statement from the doula who has lodged a police report. As for now, I cannot confirm whether the statements on FB are true or false,” he said.
According to Mohd Khalil, the police were unable to classify the case as initial investigations could not determine the offence.
“We'll see about that... if the statements on FB are found to be defamatory, then we will refer the case to the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC). If an offence was committed in the birth process, we will refer the matter to the Health Ministry,” he said.
The case has since gone viral on social media after the baby was said to have died of complications while under the alleged supervision of the doula.
It was reported that Medical Mythbusters Malaysia issued an open letter to the Sultan of Johor, Sultan Ibrahim Almarhum Sultan Iskandar to intervene and create awareness among the public on the dangers of childbirth without trained medical personnel.
Meanwhile, the Health Ministry said it will take action on the issue if it received a report.
Deputy Minister Dr Hilmi Yahaya (photo) said so far, the ministry had not received any report lodged on the matter.
“We will take action if there is a report. Action will be taken (against the culprit) if found guilty... we have laws,” he told reporters after officiating the 1Malaysia Community Carnival at the Teluk Kumbar Community Hall near Georgetown today.
Hilmi advised women, especially those at risk of birth complications, to give birth at government hospitals which were equipped with adequate facilities and had qualified medical specialists and nurses.
“We do not encourage those who are at risk to give birth outside (hospitals). If possible, give birth at our hospitals. We have the facilities as well as a number of specialists and nurses. In fact, it only costs RM10 at government hospitals.
“We do not want the child to die because it was the parents who wanted to try to do it (themselves). It does not make sense. So, please don’t... Our children are so precious.
“There are couples who have been married for 10 years with no children but when they do have one, they opted to give birth that way. That's very dangerous,” he noted.