Baby miracles

Baby miracles

Associate Professor Mahesh Choolani, 47

  • OCCUPATION: Obstetrician and gynaecologist at A Company for Women, Camden Medical Centre.
  • ABOUT HIM: The Singaporean worked in Bloemfontein, South Africa, for a year from 1995 to 1996. He went there with his wife and regards it as one of the most memorable years of his career. Last year, he was awarded the Clinician Scientist Award for his research efforts.
  • He does research with a team and the key areas of interest include foetal stem cells and prenatal diagnosis methods.

I decided to specialise in obstetrics and gynaecology because...

Before I entered medical school, I read an article about the discovery of genes and how it might be possible to alter the genetic make-up of a foetus in the future. The idea of looking after a foetus in the womb was so amazing. In fact, I said during my interview for medical school that that was what I wanted to work on as a doctor.

The reproductive system is fascinating because...

Starting with one cell and ending up with an entire baby in nine months is a miracle. That always amazes me no matter how many babies I deliver.

If I were to give an analogy for what I do, I'd be a...

Parent. I get to scan the womb and watch the baby grow, as well as look after the baby and make sure that everything is going well. During labour, I feel like a parent because I need to be patient while waiting for the baby to be born.

I have come across all types of cases...

I have a special interest in high-risk pregnancies, which includes women who have had repeated miscarriages. When a high-risk baby is born, it's a big thing for me and the parents. A couple even made me the godfather of their son to thank me.

A typical day for me would be...

The first thing that I do when I wake up is to clear my e-mail. I am at work by 7.30am, seeing patients in the wards. After that, I either do clinic consultations or carry out research work with my research team.

Work ends at 6 or 7pm. I go home to have dinner with my wife, a brand consultant, and our 12-year-old son. He is taking his PSLE this year so there is a lot of homework to be done after dinner.

I work on weekends, unfortunately, but I also find time to spend with my family.

I love patients who are...

The reason I like clinical practice so much is that I get to interact with patients. Every encounter with my patients is a wonderful one.

Patients who get my goat are...

My role is to make every pregnancy as wonderful as possible - which is what every parent wants, too. Because of that, there haven't been any unpleasant experiences with patients.

One little known fact about pregnancy is...

Older women who become pregnant can expect more risks to both mother and child. The mother has a higher chance of getting gestational diabetes and high blood pressure. The baby has a greater risk of conditions like Down Syndrome.

Older mothers should be aware of the risk and that there is an effective method to detect it - the nuchal translucency scan, which is done 12 weeks into the pregnancy.

Things that put a smile on my face are...

Seeing my patients well and happy. It's because of them that I'm awake at 4am to deliver babies, but it doesn't feel like work because the moment I hold the newborn in my arms is a very beautiful one.

It's also great when parents ask me to carry the baby for a photograph. It makes me feel like I'm part of the family.

It breaks my heart when...

A patient who has had recurrent miscarriages loses the baby again.

I wouldn't trade places for the world because...

I'm very privileged. It's an honour to be the first person to bring a life into this world and hand that life to his mummy or daddy.

My best tip...

Read up on healthy diets or consult a doctor if you are planning a pregnancy. A proper diet with adequate supplements is important. This seems fairly obvious but I've seen many pregnancies that could have been healthier or lower-risk if nutrition was paid attention to.

For example, many women take folic acid after getting pregnant, when they should start doing so even before they are pregnant.

This article was first published in Mind Your Body, The Straits Times.

Purchase this article for republication.

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