Under a soon-to-be-launched 'birth companion scheme', an expectant mother would be accompanied by a close woman family member in the labour room in government hospitals in Punjab.
This was stated by Vini Mahajan, principal secretary, health and family welfare, on Saturday.
In a press statement here, Mahajan said the woman companion of a pregnant woman, who may be mother, mother-in-law, sister, sister-in-law, or any other woman family member or friend who herself is a mother, would be allowed to accompany the pregnant woman inside the labour room during delivery. The idea behind the initiative is to reduce the stress a pregnant woman underwent during delivery and to provide her comfort, assistance and emotional support, she added.
However, to maintain hygiene and avoid infection, it would be ensured that the accompanying woman wore clean clothes and followed the medical protocol. Such birth companions would, in no manner, be allowed to interfere with the medical procedure during the delivery. The idea is to increase the emotional support to the pregnant woman during delivery, assist in early initiation of breastfeeding, reduce postpartum depression and provide better care to the newborn. The move is also aimed at boosting the overall confidence of the community in public health care system.
Mahajan said such a practice is advocated by the World Health Organisation and supported by the ministry of health. It is already being followed in some developed countries and is successful. Even in India, the model is being successfully implemented in Tamil Nadu, she said.