After living in Singapore for over 8 years, my husband and I found out I was pregnant with our first child, Ellie, and this signalled that it was time for us to move back home to Brunei. As a 30 year old who hadn’t lived in Brunei since she was 18, I was nervous. Would I have access to the same level of medical care? Would I be able to find all the products I wanted for my pregnancy and my child? Being the kiasu person (and now parent) that I am, I dove head first into research. My first roadblock – did I want to give birth at RIPAS or JPMC? I trawled the internet for any first hand accounts of what it was like to give birth at RIPAS or JPMC but came up largely empty. RIPAS itself didn’t even have a website with details on pregnancy and birth. I then turned to friends, only a handful of which had children, whose advice I found useful but limited.
By my first appointment at RIPAS I knew all the terminology and was armed with a stack of questions. I was pleasantly surprised by the level of care I received at RIPAS – and all without the price tag attached to Singaporean prenatal care. What I did find lacking, however, was information which I either had to get from asking friends or by pestering the doctors with my huge list of questions. And as much as the doctors and nurses at RIPAS are knowledgeable and caring, they also have a very limited amount of time for each patient.
Over time I also came to realise that there are many resources available for us in Brunei, I just needed to know where to look. One thing that was really unique about Brunei was that almost everything spread by word of mouth. This makes sense given Brunei’s small population but I soon discovered a huge downside to this – I would sometimes get necessary information too late. An example of this was when it came time for Ellie to have her 2 month vaccinations. We got these done at RIPAS without any issue, but a couple of days later I remembered that someone had once mentioned to me that RIPAS does not provide all the necessary vaccinations. After looking into this I realised that RIPAS did not provide the recommended Rotavirus vaccine or the PCV (Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine). I then had to scramble to get her an appointment at JPMC only to realise that vaccines needed to be given on the same day or at the very least, spaced one month apart. As inconvenient as it was, I was lucky to have found out in time and managed to get Ellie fully vaccinated. I have friends who weren’t so lucky.
Another issue, during my pregnancy and after Ellie’s birth, was that I was constantly looking for nursing items, baby gear, toys, bottles and other baby-related items. While Brunei lacks large specialist baby shops, I realised that I could find many of the most popular baby items through smaller brick-and-mortar shops or even Instagram sellers. The problem was that to find them, the bulk of it came from personal recommendations of other mothers. There was no central portal that consolidated any of this useful information for a new mother.
What I desperately needed (and still need) is one place where I can get all my information. This was the birth of Baby Brunei, a website dedicated to providing mothers in Brunei (new or otherwise) with the information they would need for their pregnancy and parenting journey. We will continually be building on the website content, and over time we hope to make this your one-stop resource to all things children-related in Brunei.
I hope you find the information useful as a starting point for your own research. Do let me know if you have any suggestions for content or articles, or even if you wish to contribute directly to the website.