updated 21 Dec 2011, 11:20
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Wed, Nov 16, 2011
The New Paper
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More mums opting for caesarean births
by Koh Hui Teng

Say hi to Hannah Marie Tan, a girl with a string of number ones to her name.

She was born on Nov 11, at 11.01am.

Her parents - bank officer Julian Tan, 42 and animal trainer-presenter Tan Su-Yin, 39 - said they did not specifically ask for the date 11/11/11.

"Because of my wife's age and high blood pressure, we opted for a caesarean birth. We were given two dates, Nov 8 or 11. We chose the latter," Mr Tan said.

It turned out Nov 8 is Mrs Tan's birthday. "We thought Hannah should have her own special date instead of sharing it," the beaming mother added.

Some people believe the date 11/11/11 is special.

It's a palindromic number that reads the same both forwards and backwards, something that occurs only once every 100 years.

Hannah's timing - doctors and nurses delivered her at 11.01am in Mount Alvernia Hospital - was another coincidence.

"The surgery was originally scheduled in the afternoon, but it was pushed forward to 11.45am, then 11am," Mr Tan recalled. "When she popped out at 11.01am, I thought to myself, could this be divine intervention?"

The quest for a good head start was partly why housewife Ong Hui Wen, 22, opted to deliver daughter Amber Li at Thomson Medical Centre last Friday.

"It's an auspicious date to give birth and definitely a nice date to remember," she said.

The first-time mother admitted she had some jitters: "It's my first birth and I'm nervous about the delivery.

"I hope to keep the pain threshold at a minimum, so I chose C-section."

Both private and public hospitals here are performing more C-sections.


A Thomson Medical Centre spokesman said 60 babies were born last Friday but was unable to say how many were born by C-section to parents who had specifically requested that date.

An NUH spokesman said they performed 10 C-sections that day, which was more than a typical day.

C-section is a caesarean birth, where a surgical incision is made through a woman's abdomen and uterus to deliver a baby.

It is usually done when there are complications that would endanger the mother or the baby's health.

But women who go through C-sections also run a much higher risk of requiring hysterectomies, or surgical removal of the uterus, said a 2007 Oxford University study.

Medical journal The Lancet carried a review from the World Health Organization Global Survey on Maternal and Perinatal Health 2007-2008, which found that healthy women opting for a C-section over a vaginal delivery put themselves at greater risk of complications.

They were 10 times more likely to require intensive care.

A Ministry of Health (MOH) study between 2001 and 2003 showed the overall risk of ill health or something going wrong was higher in caesareans than normal deliveries.

Associate professor Chong Yap Seng, senior consultant at the National University Hospital's department of obstetrics & gynaecology, said: "C-section may seem more convenient, but the mother requires a longer time for recovery as well as additional costs.

"Mothers usually experience more pain than after a normal vaginal delivery. Initiating breastfeeding will also be more difficult."

Going for a non-medical C-section just to ensure Junior arrives on a specific date can be dangerous.

Said Prof Chong: "Complications include excessive blood loss, damage to adjacent organs during surgery and wound infection. Subsequent deliveries will also become more high risk because of the scarred uterus."

Despite the risks, caesarean numbers are rising.

An MOH paper found almost one in three babies are born through C-section in Singapore.

In the UK, C-section rates have gone up from under 3 per cent in the 1950s to 23 per cent in 2003-2004.

When asked if they thought the 2.6kg Hannah had gained an advantage with so many ones early in her life, the Tans laughed.

"What's most important is that she's healthy. Everything else is a bonus," Mrs Tan said.

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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