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Thai mothers caving to superstition or private hospital wishes when having babies

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Thai mothers caving to superstition or private hospital wishes when having babies | The Thaiger

by Kornwaree Panyasuppakun and Tim Newton

“Many babies in Thailand are born to suit ‘auspicious days’ or the Obstetrician’s golf plans.”

The expectant mother reported to the private hospital in Phuket where she and her husband had decided to have their first baby. When she walked in for her appointment with the Obstetrician the first question was when she wanted to make an appointment to have the baby. A bit taken aback she replied, “whenever the baby is ready”.

The English-speaking nurse chimed in explaining to her that ‘most babies’ at the hospital were born though caesarian section.

Being a first baby, and having read a lot in the lead up to the birth, she found the answer surprising, especially as the comment was delivered in such a matter-of-fact way.

She politely got up and walked out of the examination room and signed off her private health insurance for the visit. She and her husband then drove to a well-known local public hospital and made arrangements for a natural birth of their child about three weeks later.

We’re glad to report that mother, father and child are doing well, albeit with a few sleepless nights.

In another case an expecting Russian mother was ‘strongly urged’ to consider a Caesarian ‘for the health of her baby’ at another private hospital on the island. Again, she went to another hospital and had her baby naturally.

The Nation Weekend is reporting that Thailand has double the recommended rate of surgical births, and that could be a problem, say experts.

The reason for the high rate of ‘timed’ births is that mothers choose to go under the knife due to fear of labour pains, superstitious beliefs or to take advantage of the packages offered by private hospitals.

“In Thailand, 35 per cent of all babies are born by caesarean section, but the World Health Organisation puts the ideal rate at 10 to 15 per cent,” Professor Dr Pisake Lumbiganon, president of the Royal Thai College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said.

The high rate of C-sections in Thailand, he said, can be attributed to a lack of health literacy, as most women – including those working in healthcare – believe a C-section is safer and better than natural delivery. Also, Pisake said, going under the knife allows parents to manage their time and choose a lucky date of birth.

One mother, who asked not to be named, said she chose surgical birth due to fear of labour pains.

“After we made the decision, we went to a venerated abbot and had him pick a date. He chose a holiday, which was also very convenient for us,” she explained. Her son was born on December 5 – the birthday of late King Rama IX.

Likewise, Kedsanee, a nurse at Bangkok Hospital Pattaya, said she had given birth to a healthy boy via C-section.

“The obstetrician himself picked the date for me. It was the 6th day of the 6th month in year 61. He said number 6 was lucky,” she said. Her son was born on June 6, 2018 or 2561 BE (Buddhist Era).

The belief that a person’s birthday determines the course of their life is prevalent in Thai society, especially among well-to-do people and celebrities who can afford to cover the costs of a C-section.

Chompoo Araya Hargate, a top Thai celebrity, and her billionaire husband, for instance, had renowned feng shui master Grienggrai Boontaganon set the delivery date for her.

And she is not alone.

According to Chinese belief, as soon as sunlight touches a baby’s skin, the wheel of fortune is set in motion, Grienggrai told The Nation Weekend.

However, he said, it is difficult to come up with an auspicious date and time. “They comprise five elements – good health, prosperity, supportive relationship, parents’ prosperity and a smooth life – and there are very few dates that yield all of these.

“Many people are naturally born on fortunate dates and became millionaires. But natural birth is like a game of chance – if the baby is born on a bad date, they may encounter setbacks in life,” he said.

Famous fortune-teller Arunwich Wongjatupat said nine out of 10 parents look for dates that will yield either prosperity or leadership qualities for their soon-to-be-born child. According to Thai belief, the stars begin affecting our life as soon as the umbilical cord is cut, he explained.

Some “stars”, such as the Moon, can bestow charm and attractiveness, while some can make the parents prosperous.

“One thing that I find really repulsive is that lots of parents want their child to be born on a date that will help their business, even if the baby is not ready for delivery,” Arunwich said. “We need to put the health of the baby first.”

Thai mothers caving to superstition or private hospital wishes when having babies | News by The Thaiger

Doctors, meanwhile, are expressing concern that auspicious dates chosen by fortune-tellers are often too early for the baby.

A study published in the New England Report in 2009 looked at elective C-sections among mothers with a C-section history, and concluded surgery should be scheduled at week 39 at the earliest. The study found that babies born by C-section at week 37 are twice as likely to have breathing problems, low blood sugar and infection compared to those born in full term. Premature babies are also more likely to be admitted to the intensive care unit.

But factors that make caesarean sections so popular in Thailand are not limited to the parent or the fortune-teller. Doctors and hospitals also play a part. According to Nopadol, most doctors prefer caesarean surgery to natural delivery because “it is faster, more convenient, less tiring, and more profitable”. In natural delivery, doctors may have to stay overnight before the baby is delivered, but a C-section can be completed in 45 minutes, he said.

Pisake said that since seven out 10 babies are delivered by C-section, private hospitals can charge almost twice as much for caesareans instead of natural delivery. At Bumrungrad Hospital, one of the top private hospitals in Bangkok, parents pay as much as Bt136,000 for a C-section compared to Bt89,000 for natural delivery.

Read more about this topic at The Nation Weekend HERE.

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Crime

Phuket police arrest meth dealer, discover drugs valued at 15 million baht

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Phuket police arrest meth dealer, discover drugs valued at 15 million baht | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Newshawk Phuket

Drugs valued at 15 million baht have been seized in a drug crackdown in Phuket. On October 22, Phuket police, along with Phuket Governor Pakkapong Tawipat, reported to the media about a drug crackdown that ended up with a total seizure valued around 15 million baht.

Earlier, the police received a report from an undercover agent that a woman named ‘Ying’ or ‘Suthicha Thirawut’ was a local drug dealer trading drugs in Phuket area, so police planned to purchase drugs from the woman. They contacted Ying through another woman named ‘Noina’, Ying’s close friend. Around 10pm on October 20, police bought 1 gram of crystal methamphetamine from Noina before arresting Ying and another man, Thanet Thongtan, at the Naka Condominium.

The two confessed that they receive the drug from a man who they weren’t able to name, in order to sell in Phuket. They were paid 40,000 – 50,000 baht per time and admitted to police that they have done this for the man three times already. This time, the drugs hadn’t been sold to customers as they were arrested before being able to make a sale.

Apart from 2.4 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine, valued around 4.8 million baht, the police also discovered 76,800 methamphetamine pills, worth around 11 million baht.

The three are now assisting Phuket police with their enquires related to the case.

SOURCE: Newshawk Phuket

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News

30 dolphins greet visitors to Similan Islands

Greeley Pulitzer

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30 dolphins greet visitors to Similan Islands | The Thaiger

Tourists were treated to the sight of a school of dolphins in the Similan Islands off the Phang Nga coast on Sunday.

Tour organisers said that around 30 dolphins swam close to the boat six or seven miles offshore, creating excitement for passengers. It was the first time dolphins had been seen in the vicinity since October 15.

The Similan Islands National Park director said they were bottlenose dolphins and were among several species now returning to the area following a five-year closure of the park for environmental rehabilitation. Food is again plentiful there for them, he said.

Tourists are forbidden to feed wildlife lest the free handouts alter the animals’ natural behaviour, and the park’s waters are also very sensitive to contamination from human disease and marine debris, according to the director.

SOURCE: nationthailand.com

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Patong

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms

The Thaiger

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Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | The Thaiger

by Sophie Deviller

Hotels on Thailand’s most popular holiday island are being forced to slash prices, with rooms left vacant and beaches sparse as Thailand’s tourism chiefs struggle with a plunge in Chinese visitors caused by the US trade war and a stronger baht. Phuket was the most visited destination in the country last year, after Bangkok, and a good gauge of the state of its crucial travel industry.

Tourism accounts for 18% of Thailand’s gross domestic product and Chinese holidaymakers make up more than a quarter of total arrivals. But while 2.2 million people from the country visited in 2018, according to official figures, the numbers for January-September were down almost 20% year on year.

Claude de Crissey, the French Honorary Consul in Phuket and owner of about 40 rooms in the Patong Beach area, says Chinese tourists are usually present even during the current low season.

“That was not the case this year,” he said, adding he had to lower his prices by as much as 50%.

The problem is not only in Phuket, with hotels also struggling to fill rooms in the seaside resort of Pattaya on the mainland and on Koh Samui.

Trade tensions with the US have already made some Chinese reluctant to take holidays owing to uncertainty back home, while the Thai baht has risen about 10% against the yuan this year.

A boating disaster off Phuket’s coast that killed 47 Chinese holidaymakers in July 2018 also scared some off.

“We are worried,” said an industry insider, declining to be named due to the sensitivity of the topic in a country where tourism provides tens of thousands of jobs. Adding to the headache is the fact that more than 3,000 new hotel rooms are being constructed on the island, raising the question of who will fill them.

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | News by The Thaiger

“In terms of business, it’s not good,” said Kongsak Khoopongsakorn, vice-president of the association of hotels in Thailand and director of Vijitt Resort.

“Because … we have more hotels, more rooms to sell, we have more restaurants, more coffee shops.”

Still, tourism authority chairman Yuthasak Supasorn said he remained “optimistic.”

“We should reach our goal of 39.8 million foreign visitors.”

However, that is only up from 38.2 million in 2018, much less than the jump seen from the previous year’s total of 35.6 million.

Counting on India

Now hoteliers and tour package operators are targeting visitors from elsewhere, particularly India, which experts see as a huge untapped market.

A rapid expansion of the middle class in India, increased direct flights and visa-free travel have prompted Thailand to revise forecasts upwards.

It now expects two million Indian tourists this year, after an increase of nearly 25% on-year in the first seven months. But for now, the lower arrivals is evident on the streets of Phuket.

“I’ve never seen anything as bad as what it is at the moment,” said Paul Scott from Australia, who said he has been coming to Thailand for 15 years.

He mainly blamed the stronger baht for the drop-off but also the fact that Thailand wasn’t the untouched vacation paradise it once was. “Now it’s not so new … and it’s not cheap,” he said.

SOURCE: AFP

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | News by The Thaiger

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