Information and Guidance about Maternity and Childcare

The most important and beautiful transition in the world is that of a woman stepping into motherhood. Happiness, joy, grief, laughter, anxiety, care and love, all are a significant part of it. A woman’s life alters 180 degrees once she becomes a mother. Almost all of us long for this beautiful gift of nature despite being aware of morning sickness, baby’s kicks that are painful and uncomfortable, movements that are ticklish, mood swings and the painful process of childbirth.

Childbirth is one of the most crucial and challenging phases of this transition, not to mention the exhausting prenatal and postnatal phases. Maiden mothers, specifically, undergo a lot of fears and anxieties regarding the process. While natural deliveries are, undoubtedly, excruciatingly painful, Caesareans have been reported by some as common side effects: most commonly rot setting in stitches and long-term backaches. In Pakistan alone, 14,000 women per year lose their lives due to complications, which means one death every thirty-seven minutes. Alarming, isn’t it? Evidently, the anxiety hits us all.
In our country, illiteracy is the main issue that renders unawareness about the entire procedure of pregnancy to childbirth and postnatal care. Poor conditions of hygiene and inefficient gynae/obstetrics services are another reason for maternal and infant mortality. Provision of proper and thorough awareness and information by our health departments and hospitals is in dire need of an update. While some hospitals and private clinics do provide thorough awareness on prenatal, childbirth and postnatal care, unfortunately others do not score very highly on this count. However, with effort, dedication and responsibility, we can help alter the perceptions regarding this trio of the childbirth process. The government, healthcare facilities, social health workers and society, altogether, can play an important role to curb maternal and infant mortality rates.
Pregnancy is a very natural experience for a woman; it is not a disease, and thus, should not inhibit a woman’s daily activities, unless there are complications. What to expect, body changes and dos and don’ts should be conveyed very distinctly and clearly.

Some of the salient points that every expecting mother (and father) should know and that the hospital staff should ensure that patients are briefed on are following:
•    Expectant mothers should be informed about all symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, allergies, blood pressure issues, blood sugar variations, etc., beforehand. 
•    Pamphlets and brochures containing signs and symptoms, schedules and contents of healthy eating patterns should be handed out to expecting parents.
•    Each patient is entitled to individual privacy. Doctors should ensure physical and emotional comfort of expectant mothers and should be understanding about the inadequate knowledge or ignorance of maiden mothers on the issue.
•    Expectant mothers should be guided about monitoring the signs and symptoms of onset of labor or any emergency, which could be distressing for the mother and/or the baby.
•    Mothers should be educated on developmental stages of the baby based on months and trimester. For instance, most of the neurological development of fetus takes place in first trimester. Second trimester caters for development of all fetal organs, while in third trimester growth and maturity of organs and entire body takes place.
•    Prenatal and postnatal health and fitness exercises should be arranged. Yoga and meditation sessions should be conducted for the well-being of pregnant women.
•    Allah has devised and designed the natural delivery process of childbirth for our bodies so what could be better than that? But unfortunately, not only for many expectant mothers but doctors too, a Caesarean is preferred choice as it is (temporarily) painless and a relatively quick procedure. It is the duty of specialists to educate women about the advantages of natural delivery process unless life-threatening complications occur. Likewise, they should also be enlightened about the procedures and aftercare of Caesarean elaborately.
•    With an increase in ratio of working women in the last two decades, a major shift from breastfeeding to formula milk feeding has been observed. Mothers should be enlightened about the immunization and nutrition of breast milk, as well as psychological and physical benefits of a two-year lactation period, along with demonstration on lactation techniques.
•    Because of illiteracy, gender is a contentious issue for majority of the population. Such doubts should be clarified to the family of expectants as the gender of baby is decided by the father, not the mother.
•    Childcare classes should be arranged on watching out around hazardous areas such as water sources or electricity outlets. Parents should be taught to perform infant/toddler CPR and Heimlich maneuver etc., as first aids in case of emergency.
•    Classes for postnatal care should be arranged; changing diapers, baby’s first bath, benefits of massaging, clipping nails, safe sleeping positions, vaccination schedules, etc., should be practically demonstrated by health caretakers. A schedule suggesting infant’s feeding and all-day routine should be formulated and handed over to parents to help them with postpartum routine management.
•    Interactive sessions should be arranged bimonthly to address prenatal and postpartum health issues. This would encourage social interaction between mothers with shared situations helping them to lighten up, which may effectively curb prenatal anxieties and postpartum depression.
•    Detailed account on family planning, contraception and precautions should be elucidated.

Apart from educating expecting parents, some other issues also need to be addressed. The presence of qualified doctors to attend cases should be ensured at 24-hours maternity clinics. A minimum of two qualified doctors should be present to attend to emergencies during off time at hospitals. Health care centers, maternity and childcare units should strive to ensure hygiene and cleanliness. The environment should be routinely sanitized throughout the day to minimize chances of contracting infections. Sanitary ware and fittings in rooms and toilets should be fully functional without any leakages and spills. Insects and rodent control treatments should be carried out. Maternity unit’s environment should be soothing. Access to clean and purified drinking water should be ensured. During labor situations, a physician should always be available in an adequately equipped ambulance to handle deliveries in unforeseeable circumstances.
A mother’s sound mental and physical health plays a pivotal role in the development of a child throughout his life. She holds the reins of an entire generation. She frames the mindset of our future generation. In order to ensure a sound future of a nation, the comfort of a woman must have high value and she should be genuinely cared for. HH

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