Changing the ‘Plain’s labour ward mood

Compassionate Birth Project Robyn Sheldon addresses the health care staffs during the launch of CBP.

Mitchell’s Plain Community Health Centre launched a Compassionate Birth Project (CBP) last Friday to ensure labour wards are relaxed and “filled with love and compassion”.

Industrial psychologist, Zann Hoad said they started the project seven years ago.

“In these seven years, it was all about development, research and testing, which took a long time but is very deep.

“Mitchell’s Plain Midwife Obstetric Unit (MOU) is the pilot site where this compassionate birth training will be rolled out for the first time,” she said.

Ms Hoad said their objective was to change the mood in the labour ward and make it jovial. “What we’ve perceived is that the labour ward is a very stressful place for healthcare workers and for mothers and babies.

“And we don’t want to discipline the healthcare workers and we don’t want to chase the mothers away because they are afraid of coming here.

“We want to make sure the place is filled with love and compassion, connection, relationships and this is training for that,” explained Ms Hoad.

Co-founder of the Compassionate Birth Project, midwife Robyn Sheldon said she was running training programmes for midwives and maternity staff.

“We take the staff outside of the facility, which is a high stress environment, in order to be able to work with them to reduce burn-out, compassion fatigue and high stress levels they are exposed in the maternity ward.

“We also work on relaxation exercise, deep breathing and on listening skills,” she said.

Midwife, Ruth Ehrhandt, who is the director of the Compassionate Birth Project and author of the book, Basic Needs of Women in Labour, spoke about the role of the hormone oxytocin, which is released during childbirth.

She said she chose to speak about it because it is also known as the “love hormone” and that love should be brought back into the labour ward.

Advanced midwife at the Mitchell’s Plain community health centre, Nomzamo Mmango, described the life of a public service midwife as “difficult, dramatic and tiring”.

“Our work environment is stressful and sometimes hostile,” she said. “As a staff and management at the Mitchell’s Plain MOU, we wish to express our appreciation for being considered as worthy pioneers for this pilot project,” she said.

Ms Mmango said as staff members were excited and hoping that the relationships forged during the sessions would have a positive impact on the midwives who were working under stressful conditions.