THE first natural birth clinic opened its doors in Limassol general hospital on Thursday, offering women the choice of giving birth without any medical intervention.
The clinic is part of a two-room section already established to accommodate women in labour and contains special equipment like a birthing bath and specially-designed chairs, as well as a facility where a woman can give birth standing, holding a rope for support.
“Natural birth rooms are part of many hospitals in Europe and America,” said Maria Panayiotou, a midwife at Limassol hospital and vice president of Youth Board of Cyprus at a ceremony attended by first lady Andri Anastasiadi and Christina Yiannaki, the general director of the Health ministry.
The high number of caesarean sections in Cyprus spurred the initiative for the creation of such a clinic as a pilot project in Limassol. More than 50 per cent of births in Cyprus are C-sections, while the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends the figure be less than 15 per cent.
Discussions about the clinic began on 2015 in line with the campaign to support natural birth.
A year later, midwives, along with gynaecologists and the Youth Board created a team and presented a plan for the reduction of caesarean sections which included the creation of the natural birth clinic.
“The aim is for women to understand the pain and accept it as something natural. Through natural birth, they escape the fear that comes with the pain. They learn to work with the contractions and not against them,” Panayiotou said.
The use of epidural is generally not common at the Limassol hospital. During natural labour, women are prompted to move around and learn to deal with the pain through different exercises instead of giving in to painkillers.
“There are many advantages when choosing to give birth naturally. Pregnant women are in direct contact with their bodies and the most important thing is that they are allowed to move, drink and eat. In contrast with the use of drugs, where women are stuck in a hospital bed with intravenous feeding,” Panayiotou said.
“We do everything to keep pregnant women safe.”
“Future mothers are always under the supervision of a midwife who records the fetal heartbeat throughout labour. A midwife can offer a holistic examination of the pregnant woman. In case of a complication, the midwife will notify the doctors and together with the mother-to-be they will take a joint decision on procedures,” she added.
The natural childbirth room was named “Margarita Yakoumi” in honor of a midwife who worked at the maternity hospital and died two years ago, said Maria Constantinou, another midwife.
“The delivery room does not remind us of a typical hospital room. It acts positively in the psychology of the woman or the couple,” added Constantinou, pointing to the splashes of colour in the room.
The hospital, in collaboration with the midwives, provides information and courses to teach women the proper way to give birth naturally.