Are you looking for a birthing experience that nurtures your baby and body and celebrates your natural self?
A number of natural birthing centres have come up in several Indian cities to cater to a growing brigade of mums who want a mix of the traditional and the new age. M&B explores…
Natural birth is oft spoken about in mothering circles and likened to the Holy Grail. But when it comes to actually having a home or water birth, away from the hospital’s sights and smells, many women develop cold feet. Even so, there is a slow but sure growth in the number of women who are taking the plunge (sometimes literally, in the case of a water birth!) towards having a natural birthing experience. Such a woman wants to birth her baby in a way and in a place that makes her feel comfortable, connected to herself and her loved ones and at peace with her body and her baby. The recent rise in the number of natural birth centres aimed at reducing medical interventions and checking the C-section rates in India, is a sign of the changing times.
So, what exactly does a natural birthing centre offer? Well, fi rst and foremost, most of them swear by the Midwifery Model of Care which has been adopted by countries like the UK. This model is based on the fact that pregnancy and birth are normal life events. It includes monitoring the physical, psychological and social well-being of the mother throughout the childbearing cycle; providing the mother with individualised education, counselling, and prenatal care, continuous hands-on assistance during labour and delivery, and postpartum support; minimising technological interventions and; identifying and referring women who require obstetrical attention. The application of this model has been proven to reduce the incidence of birth injury, trauma, and Caesarean section. To ensure that they give a woman support in all these ways, these centres have specially trained staff, beautifully esigned birthing spaces, and, most of all, a very positive and patient attitude. Think doulas and midwives, birthing stools and pools, pleasantly appointed rooms with music and fragrances that help you have the best birthing experience possible. Of course, the good birthing centres also recommend that you consider practical requirements such as ensuring that a hospital or medical centre is in the vicinity, easily reachable in about three minutes. They say that it may be wise to register with a regular gynaecologist in advance so that in the case of an emergency, the doctor will not refuse care.
What started as a drop in the ocean at Goa – the now-defunct, first-of-its-kind Birthing Centre in Assagao which was run by German midwife Corrina and her husband – has now gained momentum as a move towards treating birthing as a healthy natural process and the woman as a mother, not a patient. Here are some specialised birthing centres in India that are doing a wonderful job with making birthing a natural process that looks after the well-being of mother and baby…
BE A GODDESS
WHAT: BIRTHING SANCTUARY
WHERE: Salcete, Goa
WHO: Kasia Wierzbicka, a doula, spiritual midwife and Hypnobirthing practitioner, originally from Poland, is the woman behind The Birthing Sanctuary. She has been supporting women in achieving their natural pregnancies and births since 2006. Her practice is an integrated approach merging the wisdom of East and West and her goal is to raise the collective consciousness through conscious birth.
HOW: According to Kasia, her Birthing Sanctuary is a sacred space created for pregnant women, their partners and families to prepare themselves to receive their fruit of love and to transform themselves into more aware parents and beings. What can you expect? A beautiful property by the river, with specially decorated rooms designed for natural birth with a water birth option. The Sanctuary also has a holistic healing centre where they conduct their workshops. You will have the opportunity to fully celebrate your pregnancy through laughter, dance, music, arts, being with nature and like-minded people, and indulging in playful games on land and water. You can be part of women’s circles, swim with dolphins in the sea in the months of November-March, relax and unwind, learn how to heal your own birth trauma, to trust your body completely on the journey of natural pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding, become more aware of your inner self, and take charge of your life, to improve your relationship with the father of your baby, to create your own birthing experience, and give birth in water, nature, safety and love along with your partner, midwife and birth support person of your choice. Besides, you can meditate, do yoga, take massages and swimming classes, watch inspirational movies and have easy access to books, DVDs and other material on natural pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and parenting. You can also use their health café and boutique. Since fathers are honoured and welcomed here too, your husband can be part of birth preparation and the birth itself, take Watsu (water Shiatsu session), take massage, and read, participate in workshops/playshops, meet like-minded dads, play music around a fi re, watch inspirational movies on the projector, meditate and do yoga, etc.
CONTACT: House number 64, Dongorim, Nuvem, Salcete, Goa 403713. Tel: +91 9833244823; Website: birthingsanctuary.com
WHAT: THE HEALTHY MOTHER SANCTUM NATURAL BIRTH CENTRE
WHERE: Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh
WHO: Director Dr Vijaya Krishnan is a Lamaze Certifi ed Childbirth Educator and the only Indian to be a Fellow of the Academy of Certifi ed Childbirth Educators (FACCE). She is committed to spreading the message of safe, healthy and empowering normal birth to expecting mothers and their families. Her husband, Krishnan Sakotai, who is CEO of Healthy Mother, supports her endeavours whole-heartedly.
HOW: With 200 successful natural births at last count and a very high normal birth rate of 85 per cent as well as successful Vaginal Births After C-Sections (VBACs), they are certainly well on their way to countering the ‘C-section mentality’. Founded in 2008, Healthy Mother is one of the pioneers in bringing the Scientifi c Midwifery Model of Care to India. Here, you will receive holistic, individualised, unlimited and empathetic care and freedom to labour on your own terms without having to submit to hospital or doctor pressures to undergo unnecessary interventions like C-sections. The cosy-looking Sanctum’s birth centre, with cheery curtains, plants, a birthing ball and a hi-tech hydrotherapy room, is equipped with emergency back-up infrastructure and staff should the need arise, giving mothers the best of all worlds. Their expertise includes water births, helping high-risk mothers (such as those with Gestational diabetes, Hypertension) try for normal delivery. Healthy Mother has been recognised as being one of only nine birth centres across the world to follow Mother-Baby friendly birth practices by the International MotherBaby Childbirth Initiative (IMBCI). They also offer extended breastfeeding support and are also training Lamaze Childbirth Educators in order to increase the prevalence of birth practices which are Mother-Baby friendly, evidencebased, and recommended by the World Health Organisation.
CONTACT: #303, Plot No. 57, Kalyan Nagar 1st Phase, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh 500038. Tel: +91 7893068666; +91 9704368666; Website: www.healthymother.com
WHAT: BIRTH VILLAGE NATURAL BIRTHING CENTRE
WHERE: Kochi, Kerala
WHO: Director Priyanka Idicula is a Lamaze Certifi ed Childbirth Educator who has trained extensively in prenatal and postnatal care and childbirth education in the United States. Red Miller, also a Director of Birth Village, has been supporting women and families through birth for more than a decade in six different countries.
HOW: The most important thing that the Birth Village does is offer you emotional and mental support. They answer ALL your questions at the prenatal stage and well beyond. A woman is bound to feel at ease in this atmosphere of trust and communication. And then there’s the look and feel of the place itself. Think bright colours, pretty interiors and an atmosphere of absolute calm. Not quite what you’d expect for a birthing space after watching Hindi fi lms, right?! But that’s exactly what this place offers. A space where you will feel at home, where you can share your birthing experience with a supportive doula or midwife as well as your family or a close friend. You can choose from a natural birth in water, lotus birthing, and enjoy the care they lavish on you from pregnancy to post-partum.
CONTACT: 52 Maplachery Rd, Vytilla, Kochi, Kerala 682019. Tel: +91 4844043189; Website: www.birthvillage.in
TRADITIONAL MEETS TECH
WHAT: DAIMAA’S NATURAL BIRTH AND WELLNESS CENTRE
WHERE: Mumbai, Maharashtra
WHO: Obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Veda Simons is Medical Director of this facility. She is driven by the motto, ‘The Dignity To Choose The Way You Wish To Birth’. Her husband, Pravin Simons, is CEO and ably and actively supports her in her vision.
HOW: The ISO-certifi ed Daimaa’s presents a long list of services that include natural birthing, water birthing, HynoBirthing, orgasmic birthing, lotus birthing, Lamaze classes, yoga classes, nutritional guidance, etc. Their biggest USP is that they operate within a full-fl edged maternity hospital (Dr Sherekar’s Hospital, which was started by Dr Veda’s mum, also a gynaecologist) and yet support natural births. All their rooms are deluxe suites with cheerful prints on the blinds, wall art, fully motorised beds, wardrobes, split A/Cs, fl at screen LCD TVs, music systems and 24×7 Internet connectivity. These suites are designed with the woman in mind and the atmosphere is unlike any hospital with a large open terrace with plenty of greenery. They even provide midwifery training to young women and midwifery services that include services of an internationally-qualifi ed midwife including antenatal home visits every month for up to six months, fortnightly till the eighth month and every week during the ninth month. You will be checked by a gynaecologist if any parameters that may hinder the birth are noticed. Postnatal visits are also included.
CONTACT: 1st Floor, Anne’s Apartment, Kalina-Kurla Road, Santacruz (E), Mumbai, Maharashtra 400029. Tel.: +91 2226654444; Website: www.drsherekarshospital.com
Here are six care practices based on the Midwifery Model of Care that these birthing centres advocate…
* Labour begins on its own
* Freedom of movement throughout labour
* Continuous labour support
* No routine interventions
* Spontaneous pushing in upright or gravity-neutral position
* No separation of mother and baby after birth with unlimited opportunities for breastfeeding
Even the bigger hospital chains are waking up to this change in what mums need. Fortis Healthcare at Gurgaon now has a section called Mamma Mia, which offers prenatal counselling, yoga, Lamaze and breastfeeding support in a programme which has been specifi cally developed for them by Lamaze, USA, and Oeuf, College of Holistic Reproductive Health, UK. Their professionals have been certifi ed by Lamaze International, Breastfeeding Promotional Network of India, Childbirth International and UNICEF. And, starting this month, they are also equipped to handle water births. With childbirth educators and doulas such as Anika Puri and Shruti Saxena on board, they are defi nitely doing it right. Contact: Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Sector 44 (Opposite HUDA City Centre Metro Station), Gurgaon, Haryana 122002. Tel: +91 1244386666. Website: www.fortishealthcare.com/india/gurgaon/
Words Priya Pathiyan