Friday, 22 February 2013

Making a natural childbirth splash in India

A University of Hull midwifery lecturer is joining a pioneering team of medics on a mission to spread the word of water birthing in India.

Natural births are comparatively rare in private hospitals in the country, where it is thought that as many as 80-90 per cent of all births in the country are by Caesarean section, compared to around just 25% in the UK.

But Julie Green, who is also a practising Supervisor of Midwives and the co-founder of Birth and Beyond Consultancy - a social enterprise created to offer a different approach to antenatal classes for parents-to-be - is hoping that a new birthing centre combined with specialised training for midwives may help to reduce that rate.

The team will be in the city of Indore for five weeks setting up the new labour unit at a private hospital, which will be officially opened by a leading Bollywood actress on International Women’s Day, March 8. The local midwives and medical staff will also be trained in how to support women in natural childbirth, thereby encouraging them to opt for less-medicalised care.

Julie Green said: “I am really excited to be involved in this project. When I heard how high the Caesarean section rates were I was really shocked. I’ve heard that many women are leaving hospitals after childbirth feeling depressed and even violated by their birth experience and that’s really heartbreaking. I’ve seen how empowering natural childbirth can be to women – it can have such a huge impact – that we really hope the new centre starts spreading the word about natural birth.

“The ultimate goal is to inspire a different culture across the country. In the past, I have worked in developing countries with the poorest of women, but this case is different as it will be a private hospital. We really believe that the way to change the culture is to start from the richer parts of society, with the trend eventually catching on and natural birth becoming better supported generally.”

Julie will also be training midwives to deliver the unique Birth and Beyond antenatal classes, taking the social enterprise to an international market for the first time. The classes are different to traditional structures, as they are delivered by childbirth educators with a professional background in midwifery or health visiting. They have proved so successful that the Hull Primary Care Trust has funded places for Hull mothers-to-be as its official antenatal education provider, while parents from other areas can pay for an extended series of sessions.

Julie added: “We’ve seen a lot of demand for our particular brand of classes so it is fantastic to be able to see this at work in a new country. Hopefully this will really reinforce the message to mums-to-be about being in control of how they birth their babies. It is also great for the organisation as we are hoping to expand this wider throughout this country.”

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