By Joyce Gan

EXPECTANT PARENTS CAN appreciate the beauty of having a life to look forward to more in the coming months especially. A special antenatal course, "Natural Birth, Gentle Birth" will take place once a month, for two to three hours from April to July.

The course is modelled on the premise that birth, motherhood and parenting are based on God's plan for us.  "Natural Birth, Gentle Birth" will attempt to give a deeper and richer understanding on how the woman's body works and why birth happens in a certain way. Questions on why pain is necessary, for example, will be tackled as well.

Mrs Pat Chong, the Childbirth Educator and the one who will be conducting this course is in the last stages of pursuing her Graduate Diploma in Childbirth Education from Birth International, an Australian organisation.

A mother of five - with children from five months to 11 years old - Mrs Chong has attended several births as a support person, occasions that she describes as "always a wonderful experience and always a pleasure!"

"Witnessing a birth always leaves me feeling humbled and awed - by the power of a woman's body in bringing forth life into the world," she said. "What I see and do gives vision and depth to what I feel as a mother, a woman and a Catholic." It is this sense of mission that inspires her to strive towards correcting the misconceptions  of childbirth and to help people learn to trust themselves and in God's design. "[Birth, breastfeeding and even parenting] are becoming more medically managed and fewer women trust their bodies enough to do what it was made to do - birth a baby," Mrs Chong explained.

"What has happened instead is that women and parents are given the subtle message that things will not work well under normal circumstances - that they are not competent to birth naturally. Some 'help' must be given - so labours end up being induced, membranes are ruptured artifi cially, women are routinely monitored in labour and not 'allowed' to labour freely in positions of their choice, etc, and of course pain relief is freely offered instead of steady, compassionate support. So we have learnt to trust the system, but not ourselves. And the same goes for breastfeeding and parenting where we now put our trust in the material, in the tangible and no longer in what we cannot see," she said.

With these aims in mind, Mrs Chong hopes that labour support can one day be "inexpensively and freely available to all women in labour through individual woman-centered midwifery care".

The first four sessions of "Natural Birth, Gentle Birth" will be held at 4pm on Saturdays (Apr 22, May 6, Jun 24 and Jul 1) at 40 Jalan Pemimpin, #04-10C, Singapore 577185. The cost for each couple is $110. For inquiries, please contact Pamela at 9271 3335.  

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