Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Scenes - Sarikei Maternity Ward

Sarikei Maternity Ward Established 30th Oct 1954
At the current location of St Clement's Kindergarten.
Find the
nipah palms and traditional clothes.
Source: Picture from hotel wall

Is it a boy or girl? Let's peep inside the homemade nappy of white cloth secured by safety pins. Look at what the stork brought us! A super cute baby! Sarikei's population has increased from both immigration and natural births.

It's common to hire a midwife to deliver your baby in the old days. An experienced older lady would be hired to nurse the mother during her first month after delivery with goodies like traditional herbal broth of chicken. The mother would be discouraged from bathing for 1 month to avoid getting "wind". This old superstition likely came about because it was better to avoid getting sick in cold China due to lack of warm water for bathing.

Sarikei Chinese Chamber of Commerce, 1964-1973Find the Malay ladies in sarong.Family Planning Unit (left); Housing Rent Association (right).What was that pillar at the extreme right?
Source: Mike Yip

It's common to have half a dozen of kids or more in the 1940s-60s due to lack of family planning. That's where the Family Planning Unit (left of ground floor of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce) came in handy. The picture was likely from 1964 to 1973 because

a) the Family Planning Unit sign had Malay words (Sarawak joined Malaysia in Sept 1963).
b) the type of black and white photo frame was common then before coloured photos in 1974.
c) the basketball stadium's roof was up in 1963
d) the fence around the army barracks was up at the left.

Sarikei Repok Road, Block 5 Right, 2006

Whether your pregnancy was planned or not, in the 1960s-early 1970s, the maternity ward was at the first floor of No. 36 Repok Road at Block 5 Right (the yellow-orange coloured corner shop). I remember walking along the balcony as I followed adults to look at new born babies with their smell of milk. Now open your baby's nappy and show the guests what's inside.


45rpm said...

Childbirth was never like what it is today with monthly following up scans, luxury of epidural, induced birth and cesarean delivery. In the old days in every village you would find one or two elder who was so called "midwife" though they never gone for any formal training. The scenario would goes like this, in the eleventh hour of pregnancy and when the woman goes into labor pain one of the family member have to rush to invite the midwife over. Imagine if it passed midnight and you would expect the poor messenger rushing with a lamp inviting hostile dogs backing all the way through the village. The mother-in-law would be busy boiling a big pale of water and get ready the biggest pale at home. Someone would rush to pluck some Pomelo leafs, don't ask me what they are for but if you believe me Pomelo leafs are for frightening off evil. Beside a pair of scissor and a Sarong would come in handy.

The childbirth mortality rate was high in those days and not given vaccination was also a contributing factor. Is so common to see the same woman getting pregnant every year and who would blame them for in those days you practically don't have any form of entertainment, even the radio reception was real bad. So lets go to bed early and for the Foochow lady the motivation is a month long of 红酒 Ang Chew Mee Sau await you.

Beside No 36 Repok Rd maternity ward I think the Catholic nuns at St.Ann also provide the service but they don't learn through their own experience I am sure.

ease said...

I have pics of the family planning group, 'cause my mum was in it. If you want, I can send them.

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