The power of informed motherhood

Research shows that mothers are happier when supported with information on how best to look after their babies

Thursday, January 31 2013

A mother’s greatest concern after giving birth is the lack of advice given on caring for herself and her baby. This was revealed during a number of feedback sessions with mothers of newborn babies at Netcare’s 37 maternity units.

What the study highlighted, says Jacques du Plessis, managing director of Netcare’s Hospital Division, is that while there is an abundance of antenatal advice available the same cannot be said about postnatal information.

“Expectant mothers are often taught the stages and characteristics of labour, types of delivery options, relaxation and breathing techniques, as well as information on breastfeeding and newborn care in antenatal classes. However, there is so much more to caring for yourself and your newborn baby – and new mothers often don’t receive adequate guidance on these aspects,” he adds.

New mothers are often caught by surprise during the postnatal period, which begins after delivery and ends six to eight weeks later when their bodies return to the pre-pregnant state.

“During this time, mothers go through many emotional and physical changes while having to become familiar with the new role of motherhood, caring for their newborn and adapting to the demands of a changed family unit,” explains Du Plessis.

The feedback showed that, with all these changes taking place, new mothers felt information provided to them on discharge from hospital, pain management and the side effects of the medicine prescribed to them after birth could be improved, he notes.

“This illustrates how essential it is to choose the right facility for giving birth. It is about a long-term relationship that starts with the care of the mother-to-be, the birth itself, and the recuperative period following delivery,” he adds.

With this in mind Du Plessis strongly advises expectant parents to choose a hospital that empowers them with enough knowledge to feel comfortable with the entire birth process from inception to recuperation.

“Acting on the information gleaned, Netcare’s maternity units, which delivered over 40 000 babies last year, decided to empower mothers-to-be with specially produced educational material on aspects, such as the discharge process, pain management, medicine prescribed, things you need to know if your baby is born premature and symptoms to expect following discharge from hospital. All educational materials are supplemented by ample personalised advice,” explains Sharlene Swart, national operations manager of Netcare Stork’s Nest Clinics.

“For example, we let mothers know exactly what to expect and do on the day of discharge - from collecting their take-home medication at the pharmacy to ensuring they have their babies’ completed clinic or immunisation card.”

Mothers are also given a five-day programme advising them how to manage the discomfort of tender breasts with hot and cold therapy. Guidance is furthermore dispensed on when to breastfeed and how best to nourish herself and rest.

“We have found our patients to be much happier when they are provided with the necessary support and information, proving as Sir Francis Bacon, an English philosopher, once said that ‘knowledge is power’,” says Swart.

“With Pregnancy Awareness Week taking place from 10 to 16 February 2013, Netcare’s message to mothers-to-be is that informed mothers are empowered mothers. Now is the time to give the power back to our moms,” concludes Swart.

Educational awareness programmes at Netcare facilities
In celebration of Pregnancy Awareness Week, Netcare maternity facilities countrywide will be running educational awareness programmes.

These special events include a two-day long Pregnancy Expo being hosted by Netcare Sunninghill Hospital on 13 and 14 February 2013 from 09h00 until 15h00. Those interested can contact Zamo Aja-Okorie on (011) 806-1908 or by e-mailing her on

Expectant parents and those planning a family would also benefit from a special workshop being held at Netcare Linkwood Hospital in Linksfield on Saturday, 23 February 2013 from 10h00 to 15h00. For further information please contact Wandi Nkabinde on (011) 647-3445 or e-mail her on



Issued by : Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcells Cryogenics
Contact : Martina Nicholson or Graeme Swinney or Clemmy Eccles
Telephone : (011) 469 3016
Email:, or