While it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a team to provide a woman the TLC, or Tender Loving Care she deserves during her pregnancy, and particularly during labour.
From the first signs of pregnancy, books and movies, family and friends may paint a very rosy picture. In reality, it is an unknown for each mom-to-be, filling her simultaneously with joy, anxiety and worries. This can be compounded by clueless family members, occasional lack of clarity from healthcare providers and an environment where the pregnant woman is expected to fend for herself.
However, growing a full-term human being is no mean feat, and expectant mothers deserve all the love and care we can give them, and more!
Depression during pregnancy:
The harsh reality of postpartum depression is now widely recognized. However, did you know that prenatal depression is also a recognized mental illness? 10-20% of all pregnant women experience severe depression at some point during or after pregnancy . That is almost 1 in every 5 pregnant women! Watch out for signs of prenatal depression from the early stages of pregnancy.
Helping A Woman In Active Labour:
What do we mean by this, and how can those around her cooperate?
If you’re the husband of a mother-to-be:
Know that the husband or partner has a very important role to play in the crucial moments leading up to the baby’s delivery.
- Let her know that you are a team so nothing is her fault or her problem alone.
- Comfort her with loving words and encourage her when faced with unexpected events or even the expected (and dreaded!) labour pain.
- Consider staying by her side during delivery to give her the support she needs. Several hospitals today are open to this idea.
If you’re the doctor at her delivery:
While you may attend multiple deliveries in a day, understand that for each pregnant woman and her partner, this is a life-altering event.
- Do answer any questions they may have with as much information it is possible to share, and note down requests that she has about the delivery itself.
- Educate her beforehand all about pain relief choices, such as opting in for an epidural. These are decisions she cannot be expected to make when in pain.
- Always keep communication channels open, even during delivery.
- Acknowledge her pain, even though it may be an everyday occurrence in the Ob-Gyn ward.
- Be sure to answer her questions about the delivery process or the outcome.
- If the need for an emergency surgery arises during delivery, the patient should be the first one to know followed by her next of kin. Do not avoid discussing the alternatives with her.
- “Just bear the pain” is not a solution for a woman who is going through the worst physical agony of her lifetime, perhaps way beyond what she imagined it would be like. Tell her if it is going to get worse, if it is going to take longer than expected or if it is progressing in a direction not anticipated before
If you’re a nurse in the delivery room:
- If you are a nurse, know that in a labour room, you are the greatest source of strength and support for the woman.
- She is in pain, and she is looking to you. Be patient with her. Offer to help her walk a bit if she wants to.
- Keep the positivity coming! She will remember you for a lifetime and tell everyone about how wonderful you were to her!
And if you are the mother-to-be, take all the help that is offered and don’t hesitate to ask for more. You deserve a pleasant birth environment, free of negative emotions and worries. Asking for assistance or voicing your concerns can help you navigate an anxious yet wonderful phase in your life!
Did you find this article useful? Did you feel you were supported well through pregnancy and delivery? Tell us your story at firstname.lastname@example.org and be featured on our website!
- Shidhaye, P. R., and P. A. Giri. “Editorial: Maternal Depression: A Hidden Burden in Developing Countries.” Annals of medical and health sciences research 4, no. 4 (2014): 463-465