Safe Birth

For your own and your baby’s health and safety, go to the MOU or hospital immediately if you experience any of the following:
• Severe vomiting
• Severe headaches with flickering lights before your eyes
• Vaginal bleeding
• The baby moves less or not at all
• Your water breaks long before your due date
• High fevers
• Abdominal pain
• Severe labour pains long before your due date

How will you know when labour starts?

These are the most common signs of labour:
• Dull, lower back pain
• Pains similar to period pains
• Soft or watery stools

Early signs:
• Thick, bloody vaginal discharge
• Continuous back pain that moves around to the front
• Abdominal contractions

Late signs:
• Water “breaks”
• Longer and more frequent contractions
• Heavy feeling in the pelvic area

What to do when labour starts?
• Eat only light foods. Drink fluids (e.g. water).
• Breathe deeply and try to relax.
• Walk slowly around your house.
• On your watch or clock, measure the time between the pains (contractions).
• When the pains are ten minutes apart, or if your water breaks, it is time to go to the MOU or hospital.

Always carry your Maternal Case Book with you.

Important arrangements before the birth (at least a month before your due date):
• Arrange your own transport to the MOU or hospital. (An ambulance should ONLY be used for emergencies).
• Arrange for someone to look after your other children while you are in the MOU or hospital.
• You may bring your partner or a companion of your choice to the birthing unit to be with you during the labour and birth process. Bring their ID and/or any form that is needed for them to be at the unit.
• Pack a bag to take with you (see checklists below).

Checklist of what to take with you to the MOU or hospital

For yourself:
• 2 packs of large sanitary towels
• 1 roll of toilet paper
• 1 face cloth
• toothbrush
• toothpaste
• 1 towel
• 1 bar of soap
• 3 to 4 pairs of panties
• 2 nightgowns
• something to eat and drink
• coins or card for the public telephone
• your Maternity Case Book
• ARV medication (if HIV positive)

For baby:
• 1 pack of disposable nappies
• 1 face cloth
• 1 bar of baby soap
• 2 baby blankets
• baby clothes
• cotton wool

If you are not planning to breast feed, also take:
• 2 baby feeding cups; without teats or lips
• cup cleaning solution

What happens at the MOU or hospital?
• You will be admitted to the unit. Forms will be filled in and your medical history will be taken.
• history will be taken.
• The nurse will examine you to see how far your cervix (mouth of the womb) has dilated.
• Try to only push on the nurse’s instruction.
• The nurse will guide you in what to do.
• You and your baby will remain together in the unit for a minimum of six hours.
• Bring something healthy to eat and drink during this time. The staff
• will assist you with breastfeeding or any other feeding choice.
• When the health staff have observed that you are both well, you will be discharged to go home.

After the birth of your baby
• On discharge from the hospital or MOU please return there by day 3. You should come sooner if you experience any problems with yourself or your baby before then. Both you and your baby will be checked.
• Before you leave the clinic, you will be given a “Road to Health” booklet for your baby. Important information will be recorded in this booklet about clinic visits, health observations, immunisations, etc. until your child reaches the age of seven.

Please look after the “Road to Health” booklet.

• Take it with you to every clinic visit.
• Within the first 2 weeks, go to the local clinic for:
• a weight (mass) check for your baby.
• advice and help on breastfeeding.
• immunisation
• discussion of family planning options.
• Tell your health worker if you are feeling very sad (depressed) following the delivery.
• Remember to register the birth of your baby at a Home Affairs office.