Like all other mammals, even human females when giving birth need a sense of security.
From that first pregnancy test to the first contraction, pregnancy and especially delivery are extremely personal and overwhelming experiences for a woman. It is imperative that she be accorded privacy during the intimate process of her baby’s delivery. At each step of the journey, care must be taken that she does not feel violated or uncomfortable in any which way.
Especially during a normal delivery, or vaginal delivery, a private bubble or cocoon created around the birthing mother goes a long way in giving her a sense of protection and comfort. When labour pain starts, intrusions should be minimised, unwanted members should be restricted, and her modesty should not be compromised under any circumstances.
During delivery it is essential that the mother-to-be feels relaxed and comfortable and does not experience anxiety due to her surroundings. If she is stressing due to lack of privacy or unwanted people at her labour it will increase stress hormones. This in turn will inhibit oxytocin production and will eventually slow down labour.
Here’s what hospitals and care institutions can do to ensure privacy for a woman in labour:
- Examinations and procedures should either happen in closed chambers, or behind curtains.
- Glass cubicles or panes if any should be frosted.
- If the mother-to-be is giving birth in an open ward, curtains should be drawn around her.
Privacy and perceptions during labour and delivery:
Though these physical measures to ensure privacy are mostly taken, the concept and extent of personal space or “privacy” can vary from woman to woman.
Generally speaking, a woman should have the right to decide which, if any family member is going to be present at the time of her delivery or even during pregnancy check-ups.
In India this is a sensitive topic and should be approached with an open mind and the mother’s best interests at heart. Care should be taken that the woman does not feel pressurized to have, for instance, her mother-in-law with her at the time of labour. If the mother-to-be feels uncomfortable it will make the labour process protracted and long-drawn.
The mother must at no point feel obligated to include relatives especially in-laws at these junctures.
If the woman cannot stand up and ask for privacy it may be a good idea to involve the attending physician or administrative staff in limiting the number of individuals attending her delivery.
Typically, in Indian families several visitors flock to see the new born and the new mom immediately after birth. Sometimes the new mother, already worn out from the process of giving birth is almost forced to make small talk with visitors who drop by. Extra precautions should be taken to restrict visitors (such as enforcing visiting hours) to ensure the new mother gets adequate rest after her baby delivery, which will ease her passage into this new and challenging phase of life.
Privacy for a mother is important at all stages – pregnancy, delivery and post-pregnancy. Doctors, nurses, support staff and families should work in tandem to see that her need for privacy is upheld during the entire process.
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