Nursing care: A necessary element of the birth process

A few months ago, I saw a beautiful photo-series on the things mothers around the world carry in their maternity bag. It ranged from privileged first-world mothers with expensive accessories to mothers from third-world nations having the very basic things they’d need. It moved me tremendously to think how important being a mother and the process of birth was, to just about every woman who chooses to have a child. (Here’s the photo-series if you’re interested http://www.bbc.com/news/in-pictures-35399453)

A very big part of having a baby is the care that you get once you’re in the hospital. If you’re one of the lucky ones to have had a fairly easy pregnancy and birth process without complications, then the care you need is nominal. But for those mothers who have had complicated births, aftercare is essential, especially in the first couple of days that you are in hospital and recovery.

And this is why nursing care in maternity hospitals needs to be top notch. Amala Louis, the nursing coordinator for Cloudnine (Old Airport Road, Bangalore) says nurses play a very vital role in the maternity hospital set up. “Once the gynaecologist does their job, it is the nurses who take over: everything from helping train the mother in breastfeeding to keeping her comfortable and in good health till she is ready to go home,” she says.

At Cloudnine, Amala adds, the nursing staff is carefully picked and intensively trained so that mothers are comfortable post-delivery. “Post delivery days are very difficult because your body has gone through an intense, rigorous process of birthing a baby, irrespective of whether it was a vaginal birth or a C-section. Women need a caring, gentle (but firm) presence to feel confident of taking care of themselves,” she says.

Cloudnine,Old Airport Road,sees the birth of nearly 200 babies every month, and happily, sees very low mortality rates. “Nearly half the things that make an expectant mother comfortable and anxiety-free have to do with nursing care and the nursing staff. I think in the four years that I have been at Cloudnine, I haven’t seen us losing more than two babies in a year, which is great. It’s a testament to our doctors and our nurses who do all they can to ensure babies and mothers are safe and healthy,” she says. You’ll remember the story of Naysa, who was born in the fifth month (nearly 24 weeks) at 580 grams and is now a healthy, happy two year old. (Link Naysa story here).

Amala tells me of another story where the couple had triplets who were premature. “Among multiple babies, the baby with the lowest birth weight is usually most vulnerable. These babies (parents’ name withheld on request) recently were all born below one kilogram birth weight and were in the NICU for a bit before they could go home. The nurses and doctors went out of their way to make sure that they survived and were healthy. Not just that: the babies had to stay in the hospital for a month and the bills on that kind of complication are bound to be very high. The parents didn’t expect complications and were only prepared for a regular delivery process, after which they expected to go home. But when the babies had to be kept in the NICU for a month, the bills went through the roof. They presented their predicament to the doctors, and in a gesture that you will rarely find in any other private hospital, the doctors and other staff waived their fee in order to help the couple,” she says. Truly unheard of in a culture where hospitals are rather ruthless about making money.

It is gestures like these  that separates a great hospital from a good one. My own experience of nursing care after my babies is less than pleasant, including the breastfeeding consultant who came in to teach me how to feed my child. But at Cloudnine, from all accounts (of friends and relatives), every staff member is trained to be gentle, firm, equipped with information and ensure that ‘patients’ are comfortable. When I take my own kids to their paediatric section, I am always thankful for the nurses who are kind and warm to my children; that attitude really helps me ignore the waiting period that accompanies an appointment.

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