Education is the key

Last Updated 28 March 2013, 15:51 IST

The rise of urbanisation along with nuclear families in India has sparked a new interest in ‘childbirth education’ in young couples.

The fading presence of elderly members in the family and need for scientifically accurate guidance are pushing couples to trained ‘childbirth educators’ who take them through the entire process of pregnancy, childbirth and baby care.

Trained childbirth

educators are, however, few with the training held mainly in the US and UK.
Childbirth education, also known as birth preparation, originated in Russia in the 1940s, and was taken forward by pioneering doctors such as Frederick Leboyer and Lamaze of France. In time, it became popular in the developed world, and now, it’s gaining currency in metropolitan India as well.

Sushma Bhoothalingam – one of the first trained childbirth educators in India – who worked in the Holy Family Hospital, says, “In our country, traditionally, expectant women are assisted by their mother, mother-in-law and female relatives. But now that young working couples are increasingly relocating to other cities, that luxury isn’t
available anymore.”

“Besides, our traditional knowledge regarding health precautions during pregnancy, childbirth and thereafter is replete with myths and misconceptions. A trained childbirth educator provides medically-established information on different aspects. Modern couples, therefore, favour professionals over relatives.”

There are more benefits of childbirth education. Classes are held in groups on weekends which helps anxious couples meet and share their feelings with each other.

Shruti Saxena, childbirth educator at Fortis Healthcare, Mamma Mia, says, “We encourage women to join us in the fifth month of pregnancy. We throw light on pre-natal exercises, body changes, labour signs, minimising its pain, baby care etc. We ask the husbands and other family members to join in too and they report a good feedback.”

Dr Sushma says that childbirth is meant to be a joyous affair. However, with lack of training, it becomes a stressful and risky experience for the mother-to-be, her family and doctor. This is where the childbirth educator helps.

She says, “Just like an athlete who is about to participate in a big tournament needs a coach, every expectant woman needs a coach. Most women are scared of labour pain, and, in fact, of the whole process. Education helps the woman realise that her body is made in such a way that she can handle it.”

“Importantly, it also helps the woman connect with her child as well as her husband and family participating in such classes. After all, childbirth is team work.”  

(Published 28 March 2013, 15:51 IST)

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