Fresh flowers, soothing paintings and the aroma of fresh coffee are what expectant mothers can now look forward to during visits to the doctor. “Unless there is a medical complication, expectant mothers do not need to be treated as patients. All they need is care and comfort,” says Sabhyata Vaid, consulting gynaecologist, Artemis Hospital, Gurgaon.
It is an approach that medical practitioners believe can diminish the stress associated with pregnancy. “Boutique” birthing centres such as The Cradle (a unit of Apollo Hospitals) and similar centres within multi-speciality hospitals, such as the one at Artemis and The Nest birthing centres at Wockhardt Hospitals, now claim to treat pregnant mothers as guests requiring special attention rather than as medical cases.
Birthday bonding:The entire family welcomes the new?arrival. Hemant Mishra / Mint
Holistic packages are offered to draw expectant mothers into a shared community in the early months of pregnancy and to provide continued support through post-partum care. Facilities extend from antenatal classes to paediatric care for the child’s first five years.
Sixteen weeks into pregnancy, both parents should begin to prepare for the physical and emotional changes they will encounter. Antenatal classes at these birthing centres counsel the couple and offer pre-birth fitness regimens such as Lamaze classes, too. More importantly, they provide expectant mothers with a network of peers to share concerns and fears with. Earlier, their questions would have been addressed to a traditional Indian family network. However, as nuclear families become the norm, urban mothers have fewer people to turn to for practical advice and emotional support.
“Meeting so many other pregnant women made me feel secure and understand the changes within my body better,” says Archana Kavare, who joined an antenatal programme at The Nest, Wockhardt, Bangalore, before delivering her firstborn. “The breathing exercises I learnt during the Lamaze classes also helped me cope with my labour pains, which extended to a full day,” adds Kavare.
At The Cradle, which has centres in Bangalore and Gurgaon, the combined labour-delivery-recovery-postpartum suite (LDRP) is seen as one seamless facility where the mother can go through the entire birthing process, uninterrupted. This helps minimize physical discomfort to the mother and offers more privacy than a typical ward. Family members are encouraged to be present for her support. Rajpal
Singh Gandhi, whose firstborn, a boy, was delivered at The Cradle, Bangalore, says: “In a large hospital, I would have had to run across departments. Here, it was all happening in one place and I felt secure, knowing our doctor was completely focused on my wife and my child’s well-being.” This facility is only available for those undergoing a normal delivery, of course. For a C-section, you still have to head to the operation theatre.
Welcome to a father’s arms
These boutique birthing centres also prepare the father to be an active participant in the birth of the child, involving him in the antenatal sessions and encouraging his presence at the child’s birth. “On the doctor’s advice, I stayed with my wife through the time she gave birth, and I could see that it helped decrease her stress and fear,” says Gandhi.
These units provide care for the newborn as well as pelvic floor exercises for the mother to minimize post-delivery problems such as incontinence. “At least 40% of women in urban India suffer from pelvic floor disorders that rarely receive immediate attention,” says neonatologist and paediatrician R. Kishore Kumar, CEO and MD, The Cradle, Bangalore, who says ignorance about these aspects of childbirth significantly impacts the quality of life later. “Involving the spouse and a peer network can also tide new mothers over postpartum blues,” adds Gayathri Kamath, consultant gynaecologist, Wockhardt Hospitals, Bangalore.
That golden hour
The presence of a neonatologist at every delivery ensures each child receives his or her best chance at life. Mamatha Ramesh’s daughter Shraddha was born 10 weeks premature at The Cradle, Bangalore—with a serious complication. Her food pipe was not attached to her stomach. However, emergency surgery quickly took care of that. “For a newborn, the first hour of birth is the golden hour. The quality of care in that hour determines the child’s future well-being,” says Dr Kumar.
The Cradle’s mandatory newborn screening programme has so far tested 1,000 babies for metabolic disorders. “We found 86 exhibiting symptoms of disorders that we successfully treated,” Dr Kumar says.
Medical practitioners themselves gain confidence from the multi-speciality facilities available. “For instance, in cases of abnormal bleeding after delivery, the support network of blood banks and intensive care units on the premises increases my sense of security,” says Dr Kamath.
What it will cost (indicative)
• The Cradle: Antenatal classes cost Rs6,000; normal delivery package starts at Rs45,000, Caesarean package at Rs55,000
• The Nest: Nine-month TLC Privilege Package for Rs7,000 (gynaecological and paediatric consultations, routine lab tests, ultrasounds, tetanus shots, Lamaze classes, antenatal counselling, neonatal screening, dietary counselling, baby’s diapers and clothing); LDRP suite Rs60,000 for normal delivery (3 days), Rs65,000 for Caesarean (5 days)
Laps of Luxury
• The Cradle, Gurgaon (0124-4082230/31/32)
• Fortis la Femme, Delhi (011-26927000)
• The Cradle, Bangalore (080-40202222)
• The Nest, Wockhardt, Bangalore <br></br>(080-66214260/40)
• Dr LH Hiranandani Hospital, Mumbai (022- 25763300/31/32/33)
• Artemis, Gurgaon (0124-6767999)
The list is not exhaustive