What would help a mother who was terrified of giving birth? How can we empower women to feel in control during labour? In the yoga industry we’re all about giving people back the joy of getting in touch with their own bodies. And a pregnant woman has more reasons than most to do this.
One forward-thinking pilot programme in the UK thinks they might have the answer. Waltham Forest Clinical Commissioning Group have rolled out a pilot scheme to see if a small pool of women with ‘tokophobia’ – an extreme fear of giving birth – can be encouraged to give birth naturally after attending yoga classes, massage therapy and hypnotherapy.
Each woman has been given £500 for yoga classes to encourage ‘a better birth experience’.
A spokesperson for Waltham Forest CCG said: “Since July 2016, the CCG has been piloting the use of personal health budgets for pregnant women who have high levels of anxiety or fear of giving birth (tokophobia).
“This allows women to access individualised, tailored services of their choice to develop skills to manage their anxiety and support them through pregnancy and giving birth.
“Supporting women to manage their anxiety in this way enables them to access the maternity care that they and their baby need and this, in turn, increases women’s chances of a normal birth, with less risk of intervention or surgical complications and a better use of resources.
“The three-year pilot was launched after our local maternity service identified a need for this type of support in Waltham Forest for a small cohort of identified women. The results of the pilot will be evaluated at the end of the three-year period in July next year.”
Waltham Forest CGG is based in east London, and the money has been made available as part of a personal health budget – a scheme which allows people to have some imput into how NHS money is spent on them.
The details of the scheme were revealed in a Freedom of Information request, which suggested the scheme could be expanded, if the results are positive.
However, some patient groups were sceptical about the scheme. Joyce Robbins, from Patient Concern:
“It is just ridiculous. I think it is a daft idea particularly with the parlous state of the NHE finances.
By all means women should attend such classes, but don’t expect the state to fund it.”
However, NHS figures revealed last year almost 28 per cent of women in the UK had a caesarean – a three-fold rise since the 1980s. C-sections reportedly cost the NHS an average of £3,781 each compared to £1,985 for the cost of a natural birth.
Here at YogaLondon we hope that the brave move from Waltham Forest CCG is a successful one, and that it will encourage NHS funding bodies to think outside the box in an effort to make childbirth and safer and more positive experience for mothers-to-be.
If you’d like to learn more about teaching pregnancy yoga why not enrol on YogaLondon’s fabulous new course?
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