Better Birthing Experience: A Thought-Provoking Finish | Day 2

On Day 2 of the Better Birthing Experience Conference, delegates and faculty delved deep into thought-provoking panel discussions on reducing unnecessary interventions. Talks and discussions ranged from how to offer VBACs, delayed cord clamping, breech births, and perinatal mental health education. The conference encapsulated a rich tapestry of contemporary childbirth practices and, most importantly, how birth professionals need to listen to women’s voices. Moreover, the significance of culturally appropriate childbirth education took centre stage, affirming the holistic approach towards fostering optimal birthing experiences.

In this blog, we put the spotlight on the diverse talks and panel discussions that marked Day 2 of the Better Birthing Experience conference.

If you haven’t already seen our Day 1 blog recap of the conference, be sure to check it out.


The Fourteenth Dr Lourdes C. Fernandez Oration

Ms Karuna Vakati, an IAS officer, currently serving as the Secretary at the Department of Education in the Government of Telangana, delivered the 14th Dr Lourdes C. Fernandez Oration on Telangana’s remarkable journey into midwifery. In her oration, Karuna traced the origins of this transformative initiative, highlighting how it all began with Fernandez. She eloquently described Telangana’s Midwifery Journey as a testament to progressive healthcare practices. She emphasised the crucial role of Fernandez, UNICEF, and the Government of Telangana in laying the foundation for improved maternal and newborn health in the region.

Can we reduce unnecessary medical interventions?

The panel discussion was led by senior consultant Dr Nuzhat Aziz, who heads Fernandez’s Obstetric Emergency Department, and had a stellar panel, comprising Dr Malathi Ponnuru, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Andhra Pradesh Medical Council; Sheetal Samson, Professional Midwife, and National Midwifery Educator,  Dr Vijaya Krishnan, Certified Professional Midwife (CPM), co-founder-The Sanctum, Natural Birth Centre and Dr Jogitha Unni, Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Fernandez Hospital. Each panellist discussed the challenges and opportunities when it comes to reducing medical interventions in their settings.

Vaginal Birth After Caesarean (VBAC)

Dr Vijaya Krishnan’s talk on VBACs focused on how it is crucial for women who have previously undergone a caesarean section. VBACs allow women to have a vaginal birth for their subsequent pregnancies, reducing the need for surgical interventions and the potential complications associated with multiple caesarean deliveries. Throughout the programme, participants were guided through comprehensive counselling sessions, receiving in-depth information about the risks and benefits associated with VBAC. They were educated about the factors influencing successful VBAC, including uterine rupture, maternal age, and the interpregnancy interval. By addressing their concerns and providing factual details, participants felt empowered and informed about the birthing options, leading to reduced anxiety and increased confidence in the ability to achieve a successful VBAC.

Term Breech Births 

The session was followed by a talk on Breech Births by Kate Stringer. Kate is a Consultant Midwife at the Surrey and Sussex NHS Trust. She has extensive experience in education, training, clinical practice, midwifery-led care, and public health initiatives in the UK and India. In her talk, she focused on identifying the characteristics based on the current evidence concerning fetal positions, the mechanisms of breech birth and characteristics of breech labours. This is to increase care providers’ knowledge in the management of women in labour with a breech-presenting fetus.

Delayed Cord Clamping

Dr Nuzhat Aziz, who heads Fernandez’s Obstetric Emergency Department, delivered an insightful talk on delayed cord clamping during the conference. She emphasised why delay in clamping the umbilical cord has been linked to notable advantages for premature babies. With a blend of expertise and passion, she illuminated the significance of this practice in childbirth. She elucidated the scientific rationale behind delayed cord clamping and its role in promoting a smoother transition for newborns. Her compelling presentation inspired attendees and underscored this practice’s importance in facilitating a healthier start for infants.

Physiological Third Stage

Ms Sheetal Samson, Professional Midwife and National Midwifery Educator at Fernandez Hospital, explained how, in a physiological third stage of labour, you wait for the placenta to arrive on its own. It is the duty of the midwife to wait to cut the umbilical cord after the baby is born so that oxygenated blood may flow from the placenta to the child.

Postpartum Mental Health

The postpartum period, encompassing pregnancy, can be emotionally challenging for many parents. Dr Shubangi Dere offered valuable guidance on recognising and addressing issues like prenatal and postpartum depression and anxiety, empowering health providers to prioritise the mental well-being of pregnant mothers.

Culturally Appropriate Childbirth Education

Why does family matter in childbirth education? This essential question forms the core of Anupama Kumar Vijayanand’s talk. She is a certified childbirth educator, doula, and the founder of Vriksham Pregnancy Care. She emphasised the pivotal role of family in the birthing process and highlighted the significance of childbirth education for fathers and in-laws. Moreover, she delved into the evolving beliefs surrounding childbirth, acknowledging the dynamic shift in perceptions and practices over the years. Understanding these changing perspectives is fundamental in tailoring childbirth education to meet the diverse cultural needs and preferences of today’s families.

Listening to Women’s Voices

The panel discussion was led by Dr Evita Fernandez, the Managing Trustee of Fernandez Hospital Educational and Research Foundation (FHERF). The panel comprised four women with varied birthing experiences – some were traumatic, and the others very blissful.  All the women agreed that birth trauma significantly altered their mental health, but they wanted to share their experiences so others could learn from it.

Master Class on Breech Births

Day 3 of the Better Birthing Experience conference was the Master Class on Breech Births by Kate Stringer. The class had over 150 participants from across India and helped participants gain a thorough understanding of how to facilitate breech deliveries.

Better Birthing Experience: A Pioneering Conference for Childbirth Practitioners

Pregnancy, labour, and childbirth are life-changing experiences for a woman and her family. For couples, this is also a time filled with uncertainties, questions, and apprehensions. How do birth professionals make birthing a positive experience for women? How can they remove apprehensions and ensure women are empowered to give birth with confidence?

To answer these questions and equip birth professionals with the latest knowledge about normal undisturbed births, Fernandez Hospital Educational and Research Foundation, in partnership with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), organised the Better Birthing Experience Conference in Hyderabad recently. The conference provided invaluable guidance and support for healthcare providers. The faculty covered a wide variety of topics, from optimal birthing positions and perinatal mental health education to the importance of undisturbed birth and culturally appropriate childbirth education.

In this blog, we will highlight the topics and workshops covered on Day 1 of the conference held on 4 November 2023.

The conference had close to 400 delegates from around 19 states in India and a few other international ones, too. With a mix of professionals, including childbirth educators, obstetricians, midwives, physiotherapists, nurses, doulas, and policymakers, the Better Birthing Experience conference was truly the first of its kind.

Dr Evita Fernandez

Dr Evita Fernandez, the Managing Trustee of the Fernandez Hospital Educational and Research Foundation (FHERF) kickstarted the conference with a powerful introduction on why women all over the world deserve better and positive experiences and, as birth professionals, we owe it to them.

The Beauty of Undisturbed Births

“Undisturbed births are endangered today”, Priyanka Idicula beautifully described what undisturbed births are and how, as healthcare providers, we need to protect the environment in which women birth! Priyanka emphasised the importance of allowing the birthing process to unfold naturally with minimal interventions. Attendees and delegates learned how a calm and supportive environment, combined with respectful care, can enhance the birthing experience, and promote better outcomes for both mother and baby.

After that talk, Priyanka followed it up with a workshop on Birthing Positions. Attendees learned about the advantages of various birthing positions, which can significantly impact the ease and comfort of labour and delivery. Knowledge about these positions empowers parents to make informed choices about their birthing experience.

Priyanka demonstrates the different birthing positions that a woman can choose while birthing

Gentle Birthing

Dr Gowri Motha, world-renowned obstetrician and pioneer of the Gentle Birthing Method, discussed and advocated for a more serene and compassionate birthing experience. She encouraged birth professionals to learn gentle handling of mothers, positive communication, and comfort measures, helping to create a calm and reassuring atmosphere during labour and delivery.

Hydrotherapy and Water Births

Hydrotherapy and water births are gaining popularity as they offer pain relief, relaxation, and buoyancy during labour. Better Birthing Experience Conferences provided insights into the benefits and techniques of water birth in the workshopHydrotherapy and Water Births” by Ms Indie Kaur and Dr Usha Ukande. The knowledge gave healthcare providers a chance to learn and explore how water birth and hydrotherapy work during labour.

Optimal Fetal Positions

The Optimal Fetal Positions workshop was a comprehensive session focused on educating participants about the importance of fetal positioning during pregnancy and labour. Led by Dr Latha Balasundaram, Head, Dept of  Physiotherapy, Fernandez Hospital and Ms Sheetal Samson, National Midwifery Educator at NMTI Fernandez, the workshop delved into various techniques and exercises that can help optimise the positioning of the fetus for a smoother birthing process. Attendees gained valuable insights into the impact of maternal positioning on the progression of labour, as well as learned practical strategies to enhance maternal comfort and facilitate an optimal birth experience.

Delegates learn optimal fetal positions facilitated by Dr Latha Balasundaram

Perinatal Mental Health Education

The perinatal period, encompassing pregnancy and the postpartum period, can be emotionally challenging for many parents. The conference had a detailed workshop on “A framework for prenatal mental health education and screening for obstetricians” by Dr Sai Krishna and Dr Shubangi Dere. The session offered valuable guidance on identifying and addressing issues like prenatal and postpartum depression and anxiety, empowering health providers to prioritise their mental well-being.

Language Matters

Does language matter in a labour room?  What role does respect play in maternity care? How does respectful maternity care (RMC) look in reality? The workshop on  RMC by the Fernandez team had all the participants thinking about how they treat mothers. During the workshop, the attendees were divided into diverse groups, fostering collaborative discussions, and sharing learning experiences. The team of Fernandez doctors guided each group through a series of engaging sessions aimed at promoting awareness and understanding of the crucial role of language in fostering respectful maternal care. Participants actively delved into the nuances of communication, emphasising the significance of using compassionate and empowering language when interacting with expectant mothers and addressing their healthcare needs. Through various role-play exercises and case studies, attendees developed a heightened sensitivity to the impact of language on maternal well-being, enabling them to cultivate a more empathetic and supportive environment within healthcare settings.

The Power of Hypnobirthing

The workshop on Hypnobirthing facilitated by Dr Pooja Shenoy had practical demonstrations in which participants gained a comprehensive understanding of how hypnobirthing can alleviate fear and anxiety during childbirth, promoting a more relaxed and positive birthing experience. The workshop emphasised the importance of mindfulness, breathing exercises, and deep relaxation techniques in empowering expectant mothers to harness their innate ability to manage pain and facilitate a smoother labour process.

Overall, day one at the Better Birthing Experience Conference had a treasure trove of information and practical workshops to deepen the understanding of health professionals.

Welcome your little one to this world with confidence

There is a wealth of information on how to maintain a healthy pregnancy. But, for many first-time mothers, the act of childbirth remains a mystery. Have you ever thought of attending a childbirth class?

A childbirth class can give you information on the entire birthing process and prepare you for your childbirth.

Why you should opt for a childbirth class?

The main goal of a childbirth class is to provide you with information to prepare for childbirth, help you make informed decisions and minimize your fears.

Read More

Dr. Lourdes C. Fernandez Birthing Suite

Fernandez Foundation is committed to taking forward its legacy of leadership in healthcare through excellence and compassionate service, to ensure that every mother and newborn receive high-quality, respectful and appropriate care.

Every pregnancy is special and for every expectant mother, childbirth is a crucial phase. Keeping this in mind, Fernandez Hospital has introduced individual birthing suites where expectant mothers can have pleasant birthing experiences.

A unique birthing suite

The new Dr. Lourdes C. Fernandez Birthing Suite is located at Fernandez Hospital, Bogulkunta, Hyderabad which was inaugurated on 9th June 2019. It’s a first-of-its-kind birthing suite in India, marking an important milestone in our 70-year journey, creating a new pathway of care.

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Experiencing Natural Birth in Water

You might be aware that your little one is floating for nine months in your womb. How about welcoming your little one in the same soothing environment? Yes, it’s possible!

Water-birthing is a safe and natural option in which you can birth your baby in a warm birthing tub. It’s a wonderful experience as it is less stressful for you and is very gentle for your baby. Your baby makes its way from a water-filled womb into a similar environment.

If you’re interested in a water-birth, it’s best to talk to your midwife or inform your obstetrician to meet the midwifery team to discuss this option. Selecting water-birth is an informed choice that the mother makes. But, the expectant mother has to be in optimal health before choosing water-birth.

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Why should women share their birthing experiences?

Dr.EvitaPregnancy, birthing and bonding with the newborn baby are significant phases in a woman’s journey to motherhood.  Women when given the right knowledge as part of the preparation, enjoy a positive birthing experience. This essentially means she has been given the freedom to make choices during labour, assured of a birth companion of her choice, encouraged to birth in the position she feels comfortable and finally enjoys holding her baby to her chest (skin-to-skin).  This kind of a birth where there has been no medical intervention is termed a natural birth.  Women who experience this, feel confident, empowered and fulfilled.  They are indeed happy mothers with happy babies.  Their stories must be told and shared with other mothers / parents-to-be.

Birthing stories when shared can help an expectant mother in the following ways:


  • Provides information and knowledge

Expectant mothers who hear birth stories get enlightened / educated and are encouraged to seek care givers who will help them enjoy similar positive births. These stories help women to have confidence in their own bodies and in their ability to birth. Read More