PREGNANCY falls under the spotlight this month, not because of St Valentine’s Day but due to Pregnancy Awareness Week – in a delightful twist – traditionally falling in the same week as the day of love.
Registered nurse Lynne Bluff, editor of the Expectant Mother’s Guide, however, says parents are often not prepared for labour and birth.
In fact, research within the South African private maternity sector has shown that only about 10% of pregnant moms properly research their options before giving birth.
“Labour is one of the most precious and memorable days in a mom and dad’s lifetime and enormous preparation and planning should go into it. Often however, this is not the case,” Bluff says.
“One of the best ways for women to empower themselves before giving birth is to attend childbirth education classes, to consult a childbirth educator or to read the various online guides for expectant mothers.
“The philosophy of good childbirth educators is one of informed choice through the knowledge of alternatives.
“Teaching should cover the pros and cons of all options for the birthing process to enable people to understand the different methods and make informed decisions.”
Bluff advises proper childbirth education should include, among other aspects, information about:
- Changes and physical discomforts in pregnancy;
- What happens in labour;
Self-help techniques to cope with labour ( breathing, relaxation, visualisation); Pain relief options – pethidine, entonox, epidurals; Partner’s roles and responsibilities; Inductions, caesars; ý Pushing techniques; Stages of labour; Initiating and supporting breastfeeding (as well as possible complications); Immediate care of a newborn; Practical baby care; and Postnatal depression. “Proper childbirth education can help women become more confident and far less fearful about giving birth – by giving them the knowledge to be better prepared, to know their options and feel empowered, ” Bluff says.
Childbirth education, she says, empowers women to make informed choices in healthcare, to assume responsibility for their own and their child’s health, to trust their inner motherly wisdom and to fully enjoy the privilege of giving birth.
“The most important factor is to come out of labour and be able to say ‘That was a fantastic experience’.
“That is why we, as childbirth educators, do what we do,” Bluff says.
-The Herald Reporter