An antenatal health fair, dubbed PREGMATE, Pregnant Mothers Advancing Through Education, by the Manchester Midwives Association and the only one of its kind in Jamaica, has been making great strides in empowering pregnant women to take charge of their reproductive health.
Midwife at the Manchester Health Department (MHD) and Coordinator of PREGMATE, Petal McNally said the initiative was developed out of the need to educate pregnant women, as there was an increase in areas of concern in pregnancy including anemia, hypertension, dental care and nutrition.
“We thought it would be good to bring them in a forum like this to educate them on various areas relating to their pregnancy. We really want to ensure that mothers of today know that pregnancy is a beautiful thing but if they don’t manage it carefully then they will have challenges” Nurse McNally explained.
She noted that at this year’s 4th staging, the pregnant women were exposed to the importance of dental hygiene in pregnancy, postpartum depression, naming and registration of babies, foetal growth and development, pre-eclampsia and eclampsia, complimentary feeding and the importance of exercise in pregnancy.
Nurse McNally added that the Manchester midwives are interested in spreading this type of initiative across the island, based on the reception, support and the impact that the midwives have noticed.
For her part, Registered Midwife at the MHD, Nichole Smart noted that the Manchester midwives have the highest number of home deliveries in the island, adding that this is part of the core functions of a midwife.
“In 2017, we had 31 home deliveries and from January to present (May), we have had 26 home deliveries in Manchester. Sometimes home births are requested and sometimes we make the suggestion to expectant mothers as it is more convenient than going to a hospital. Some pregnant women prefer this method of delivery as family members are able to be involved in the process. The women also get one on one attention with a midwife” Nurse Smart explained.
Participant in the day’s activities, Petrina Richards noted that though this is not her first pregnancy, there are many things she does not know that will help her to have a healthy pregnancy. She expressed gratitude to the organizers of the initiative, noting that she has learnt many things which will help her to be better prepared.