Pregnancy and childbirth in Malaysia

pregnant woman
Updated 2022-05-21 19:19

It is not always very easy to give birth to a child when you are far from your country and the support of your family. Luckily for expatriates residing in Malaysia, this country offers relief features to pregnant women and new mothers. This starts with one of the best healthcare systems in Southeast Asia.

According to the latest figures compiled by the Malaysian Department of Statistics, 120,147 babies were born on the national territory in the third term of 2021. Among these newborns, we find 84% babies of Bumiputera origin (literally "son of the soil", or indigenous population of Malaysia), 8.8% babies were of Chinese origin, 3.2% babies of Indian origin, and 3.9% 'others'. This last category brings together various minority ethnic groups that make up the Malaysian population, but also non-citizens residing in the country.

It can be concluded that less than 4,745 (number of "other" babies) foreign resident women gave birth in Malaysia between September and December 2021. Unfortunately, the Malaysian authorities have not compiled an exact figure for foreigners, but that should be enough for a rough guide towards concluding that expatriate baby births are part of such statistics. Luckily, pregnancy and childbirth are very well monitored in Malaysia, thanks to world-class public and private health services available.

However, in this particular case, most expatriates opt for the services of private clinics, as public hospitals are considered to be for Malaysians only and additional fees are usually required for the treatment of foreigners. Incidentally, keep in mind that the country's hospitals are almost exclusively found in large urban centers and that the countrysides have very few health services.


Above all, you should know that regular Malaysian health insurance does not cover maternity and childbirth costs, unless complications. Delivery costs are nevertheless relatively low. Count about 10,500 RM for a natural birth, and 20,000 RM for a cesarean operation. In addition, you will be in good hands, since health professionals in Malaysia are very well trained and attentive to the needs of both mother and child.

However, the vast majority of expats in Malaysia choose to subscribe to health plans offered by international insurance. Most of them include cover for maternity and childbirth costs. In addition, international insurers are very understanding towards expatriates, who make up a large part of their clientele. Therefore, you will pay almost nothing out of pocket if you choose this option, which remains undoubtedly the best for foreigners residing in Malaysia.

Prenatal and postnatal

In Malaysia, there are various services that offer a meticulous follow-up to pregnant women and new mothers. You will be able to follow general informative courses filled with useful or even essential information for future and new parents, but also birth preparation courses, or even benefit from maternal assistance aimed at offering the best start in life to your child.

One of the trendiest postnatal services in Malaysia right now is newborn massage. Some companies offer midwifery services that specialize in this field. There are even midwives who travel to assist parents at home if needed. They concoct nutritional plans for babies and mothers and take into account the changes linked to Covid-19 in Malaysia. The companies most appreciated by expats residing in the Kuala Lumpur area include Hampden Wellness, MyBidan or Jenlia Maternal Services.

Natural Birth or Cesarean Section?

Malaysia is no exception to the trend which is seeing a worrying increase in the percentage of births by cesarean sections throughout the world. According to a study by the National Register of Obstetrics Malaysia, more than 23% of births registered in the country between 2011 and 2015 were performed by cesarean section, with an increasing trend over the years.

Cesarean section is considered easier and faster by a growing number of doctors, even when it is not necessary. We advise you to specify your preference for natural birth to your obstetrician before giving birth and to only recourse to this option if necessary. In any case, do not hesitate to opt for a Caesarean section if the baby's life or yours is in danger.

Strangely enough, more and more Malaysian women are choosing to give birth at home and without medical assistance, despite the excellent local health service and low birth costs. Some call upon "doulas", who are some sort of experienced traditional midwives. The main reasons for such a choice are based on either their preference to experience the thrill of giving birth or on the belief that birth should be a natural process. Such prerogative may also be an expression of their autonomy or of their religious beliefs.

Anyways, the ultimate choice remains that of the parents, but we must stress out that giving birth is much riskier for the mother, as for the baby, without medical assistance.

Good to know:

There are several online support groups for expectant or young expatriate parents in Malaysia. These can be useful sources of information, and some also organize regular meetings between their members. A quick search will find them. If you have specific questions, feel free to ask them on our Malaysia forum.

Useful links:

Malaysia Hospitals

Birth Statistics in Malaysia

Jenlia Maternal Services

Hampden Wellness


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