Postnatal Home Care Service
A Service That Offers Much Needed Help to New Mothers
Having a baby is a joyous experience. But after the initial euphoria has subsided, new mothers have to learn to take care of the newborn as well as look after their own needs. This can be a daunting task, especially in the absence of much-needed expert advice and guidance from family members and friends.
Whereas our mothers had to turn to confinement ladies for support at this critical time, new mothers can now get reliable midwives to come to their homes to teach them how to breastfeed and care for their babies, and how to look after their own diet and nutrition.
Providing this postnatal support in Singapore is the Postnatal Home Care Service (PHCS), an initiative set up in 2007 by the Healthcare Services Employees Union (HSEU), the Southeast Community Development Council and SingHealth’s Silver Connection. The PHCS midwives have retired from active hospital employment but are keen to continue to share their experiences and put their midwifery skills to good use.
Silver Connection oversees the programme and acts as matchmaker between the mothers and midwives. All PHCS midwives are registered with the Singapore Nursing Board and have received refresher training at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital.
The PHCS midwives make personal visits, typically over three days, spending a couple of hours each time to guide and support the mothers who have requested for their services.
PHCS midwives are more efficient than confinement ladies
Mrs Ng Chiew Huey, a training centre manager, used PHCS for both her children and would strongly recommend the service to all new mothers. After her daughter was born a few years ago, she used a confinement lady with disastrous results. She then quickly requested for a PHCS midwife to help her instead.
When her son was born in November 2011, she went straight to PHCS. She was completely satisfied with the efficient support she received both times. “I got more than I expected from the PHCS midwives,” she commented.
Mrs Ng found the PHCS midwife to be an empathetic counsellor and mentor who patiently answered all her questions.
The PHCS midwife gave Mrs Ng valuable guidance in holding and breastfeeding her baby, managing his colic and other issues. “That was unlike the confinement lady who had a traditional outlook and pressured me with lots of dos and don’ts,” added Mrs Ng who had also requested the PHCS midwife to train her domestic helper to help bathe and care for her baby.
“Breastfeeding was a nightmare to me but the PHCS midwife corrected my posture, showing me how the baby should latch on. She also taught me how to express my milk. With her guidance I was able to increase the quantity of expressed milk to 200ml, from about 100ml initially,” Mrs Ng revealed.
A nutritious diet is essential
Midwife Mrs Yap Sew King, who retired after 40 years of service at the Singapore General Hospital, KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital and the Health Promotion Board, said that her PHCS work was fulfilling. She is able to employ the multitude of skills she acquired during her long midwifery career to help her clients, which is satisfying.
Explaining her work, she said, “I hold the mother’s hand for three days after her discharge from hospital, emphasising the importance of hygiene, teaching her about cot care, breastfeeding, and how to bathe and change her baby’s diapers in the correct way. I then ask her to demonstrate what she has learnt to ensure she is able to manage effectively. Most of the mothers I have provided PHCS service to, would settle down by the third day. On the fourth day, I would call the mother to check on her progress, and where necessary provide advice.”
Mrs Yap cited an example of one new mother she attended to through PHCS, who was living on an unhealthy diet of bread and ham because she did not have anyone to cook for her. Mrs Yap advised this mother on the necessity for proper nutrition and the need to drink plenty of water so that she could breastfeed and look after her own health, as well as her baby’s health.
Unlike confinement ladies who generally encourage mothers to follow old fashioned practices such as consuming ginger and sesame oil and avoiding the use of air-conditioning after delivery, PHCS midwives impart up-to-date knowledge and provide practical guidance.
“This PHCS service is a must-have for all new mothers without home support,” declared Mrs Ng.
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