I am a practicing midwife, and along with my husband, Krishnan Sakotai, run an organisation called Healthy Mother. At Healthy Mother, we provide the Scientific Midwifery model of care to women.The core tenet of scientific midwifery is that midwifery is woman-centered. It encompasses the full range of primary healthcare services for women from adolescence to menopause, with emphasis on a woman’s child-bearing period.
The word “midwife” means “with woman”. The midwifery model of care considers pregnancy and childbirth as normal life events, and encourages mothers to trust their bodies’ unique wisdom to go through labour and birth their babies under the personalised, continuous and unlimited care from their midwives. Midwives are experts at normal birth – their education, clinical and hands-on training make them the best source of physical and emotional support for expecting mothers who are healthy and are at low risk – in effect for the vast majority of women around the world.
At Healthy Mother Sanctum Natural Birth Centre, our model of care has enabled us to have overall 92% natural birth rate, which is by far the highest in any hospital in urban India. We also care for women who are at higher risk: women who are of advanced maternal age (women over 35) giving birth for the first time, women with gestational diabetes, women with pregnancy induced hypertension, and women who want to have a natural birth after previous Cesarean section. Our vaginal birth after C-section (VBAC) success rates are 86%. At our Birth Center, we have successfully married this Scientific Midwifery Model of Care to the Obstetric Model, and this collaborative effort has been effective in providing a safe, healthy, empowering environment for women in their pregnancy, birth and post-delivery periods. In this effort, we have been recognised as a Motherbaby Friendly Organisation by International MotherBaby Childbirth Initiative (IMBCI), one of only 10 such organisations across the world!
Tell us about any current projects
At Healthy Mother, we recognise that a woman-centric model of care means that the woman should have all the focus, direction and avenues to better health in her entire reproductive cycle. This means she should feel well-supported. She should also feel celebrated! To this extent, no matter where she gives birth, she still has access to our other services provided at our WellMom Lounge. These include diet counselling, pre-pregnancy counselling, exercise programs during pregnancy, Lamaze childbirth classes, prenatal yoga classes, pregnancy massage services, pregnancy art, belly henna services, post-pregnancy yoga/fitness programs, post-pregnancy massage services, foot reflexology, aroma therapy, lactation counselling and support services and teaching new moms in infant massage. We also have a mother-to-mother support network, which we promote both online and in person, so that women can benefit from the shared and collective wisdom of other moms in the community and feel confident and supported in their new motherhood to toddlerhood journeys.
What has been your biggest challenge in achieving your success?
The current system of “medical” maternity care, and breaking myths about it both within the medical community, as well as in the society has been an ongoing challenge. There is a lack of true, evidence-based information about the physiology of pregnancy and birth among couples. This lack of information feeds on the natural apprehension among expecting parents for the health of their baby, creating a panic-like situation for them, and forces them to agree to often unnecessary procedures like C-sections at the urging of their hospitals. This is a worrisome trend, and society will be in danger of giving rise to a generation of women who don’t know what it is to give birth naturally. Spreading the knowledge and information and practicing what we preach, one mother at a time, has been challenging, and yet extremely satisfying.
What has been your greatest achievement personally?
When a mother says, “I want to get pregnant again and again, just to be under your care” – that is about as best an achievement as can get!
Other than that I think our sons, aged 17 and 15 are possibly our best achievements!
Spreading the knowledge and information and practicing what we preach, one mother at a time, has been challenging, and yet extremely satisfying.
If you weren’t doing what you do now, what would you be doing?
Do not know. I feel like my Creator made a tailor made role for me!
Who has been your biggest inspiration?
My mentor, Kathie Lindstrom, has been my biggest inspiration. Kind, generous, giving, and above all balancing her personal and professional life so very beautifully – she is an inspiration to many of us whose lives she has touched!
What does the future hold for you?
At Healthy Mother we train aspiring Lamaze educators. We hope that by providing this Lamaze Accredited Childbirth Educator training, we are creating qualified childbirth educators across India, who then can spread the message, knowledge, information and skills needs by mothers and their families to have a safe, empowering and gentle birth.
In addition, we have plans to open similar WellMom centers in other metros and later tier II cities as well.
We are also looking to partner with like-minded organisations and are in talks with the Government to set up a formal college for Scientific Midwifery Education.
This article was provided by WeAreTheCity Hyderabad committee member, Anjua Arora.