The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Platform to ease parenthood pangs

How to keep fit and relaxed through sensible exercising and healthy eating, management of labour, pain-relief and modes of delivery, post-natal exercises, post-delivery symptoms, breast-feeding...

A flood of queries flashes across an expecting mother’s mind, and the anxiety is often passed on to the husband and other family members, in the absence of relevant critical inputs.

To guide parents through pregnancy stage by stage, showing them how to make it “a happy and healthy time” for themselves and their baby, a speciality city hospital has launched a novel interactive workshop.

“What to expect when you are expecting” — being organised every Friday at the Bhagirathi Neotia Woman & Child Care Centre (BNWCC) on Rawdon Street — will lay guidelines for would-be parents besides answering all their pregnancy-related posers.

“We want to stress that parenthood, for all its concomitant responsibilities, can be fun and that pregnancy is not a pathological, but a physiological condition,” explains Rahul Sen, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at BNWCC.

While there is seldom a “right” or “wrong” way of doing things in the “dauntingly unfamiliar world” of first-time parents-to-be, there is always an easy and a more applicable way. Doctors conducting the weekly workshop hope to impart the “right information and reassurance” through constant interaction.

“The central idea is to impart accurate and pertinent information, while dispelling doubts and allaying fears. Would-be parents are often bombarded with a volley of information from various sources, and this here-say knowledge can be confusing and even dangerous,” observes T. Biju Singh, consultant gynaecologist and endoscopic surgeon at the hospital.

The workshop aims to incorporate sessions on “practical self-help advice” for labour and birth, a pregnancy calendar (a month-by-month chart on physiological and emotional changes) and ante-natal care — a system of check-ups and tests at regular intervals with special stress on staying healthy and relaxed.

Singh, Sen and the other doctors on the panel — Gitasree Mukherjee, Ranjit Chakraborty and Gargi Banerjee — were “encouraged” by the response on the first day. A lot of enquiries were on diet and exercises. “I wanted to check out on what I should eat and what to avoid,” smiles 27-year-old homemaker Sramana Chakraborty, expecting for the first time.

Twenty-eight-year-old Shalu Shahani, another first-time-mother-to-be, is keen to learn about a simple regimen of exercises that would enhance her chances of having a normal delivery. “There is a lot of enthusiasm to learn, which augurs well, but the general level of awareness could be better, particularly on pre-pregnancy planning,” quips Sen.

Special sessions on pre-pregnancy counselling will be built into the programme to stress the dos and don'ts for giving the expecting mother the best-possible chance to deliver a healthy baby. “At these sessions, we will explain to the parents the possible fallout of smoking, alcohol, medicines and other chemicals, X-rays, exposure to lead, handling pets, etc,” says Singh.

The doctors conducting the workshop are also trying to involve the husband a lot more. “In our society, husbands tend to stay aloof during the period of pregnancy. We would actually like them to be there during the delivery process to lend emotional support to the wife,” asserts Sen.

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