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Childbirth education can save lives

Childbirth education can save lives

Of the million plus women who become pregnant in South Africa each year, those who receive antenatal care and quality childbirth education are the most likley to experience a healthy pregnancy and birth. Whilst the number of pregnant women accessing medical care has risen dramatically in recent years, less than half seek antenatal care before 20 weeks of pregnancy and a large percentage only first see a doctor or midwife when they go into labour. An even smaller number – about 5% – attend private antenatal classes.

“Knowledge IS the key to a safe, successful pregnancy, birth and parenting experience,” says Lynne Bluff, national co-ordinator for the Childbirth Educators’ Professional Forum. “At the very least it will improve your birth experience, and at best it can save your life.”

Childbirth educators, hospitals and specialist skincare brand Bio-Oil are joining hands to highlight the importance of childbirth education during Pregnancy Education week this February, with free talks and various pregnancy-related events happening around the country. “A professional childbirth educator, with the experience and expertise to help people make informed choices on their journey to parenthood, is a vital source of knowledge in today’s technological world,” says Zarah Riley, spokesperson for Bio-Oil.

Bluff says ideally everyone would attend childbirth education classes, which cover all aspects of pregnancy and birth as well as how to care for the newborn baby. “Although there are a couple of good online courses available, attending classes – which are usually held in the evenings or over a weekend – are more recommended; the interaction with the childbirth educator and other pregnant couples in the class is invaluable. Often lifelong friendships are formed.”

To find a childbirth educator in your area or for more details on childbirth education and Pregnancy Education Week visit www.expectantmothersguide.co.za.

What is covered in Childbirth Education Classes?

  • Pregnancy – physical and emotional changes
  • Birth options
  • Labour – breathing, water, massage, relaxation, visualisation
  • Pain relief options
  • Birth plan
  • Breastfeeding
  • Care of the new born baby
  • Postnatal depression

Typically the course is a 6 week course – held one evening a week.


Finding the right childbirth educator:


  • What are her qualifications? Ideally your childbirth educator is a qualified midwife and has completed a post-graduate diploma in Childbirth Education.
  • Is she a member of the Childbirth Educator Professional Forum?
  • Is she a mother?
  • Which birthing methods are covered in the course and which are emphasised?
  • What are her ideals of labour and do they match yours?
  • Can partners attend? Ideally dad will be involved in some or all of the classes too!
  • Are practical techniques taught e.g. breathing and positions for labour, massage, relaxation and visualisation?

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