Support group set up at GPHC for pregnant teens

─ catering to more than just delivering babies

─ focusing on labour, post-natal education

─ initiative aids in the reduction of maternal mortality at the facility

DPI, Guyana, Wednesday, July 10, 2019

To guarantee safer deliveries for first-time mothers, more specifically teen mothers nurses in the Maternity Unit of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) have established a support group. They meet fortnightly, which allows the young mothers to be educated on the various steps to delivery.

Sister Shannon Haynes, Ward Manager of the Birthing Room of GPHC’s Maternity Unit, in an exclusive interview with the Department of Public Information (DPI), explained that this initiative was taken after it was observed that pregnant teens have “a hard time” before, during and after delivery. “What we observed is that our teenaged mothers were not properly educated on the delivery process. So, we began by visiting the clinics were they initially signed and began talking with them in order to make them aware of the delivery process; what happens before during and after delivery. We really assisted them in dissolving the myths and addressing other issues they may encounter during their pregnancy.”

Ward Manager of the Birthing Room of GPHC’s Maternity Unit, Sister Shannon Haynes.

Endorsed by the management of the hospital, the support group – formed in late 2018 – has been positively impacting this targeted group. It was noted that through the efforts of the support group, the education received by the teen mother has led to better outcomes as issues the mother may encounter are identified and dealt with earlier.

About the delivery process, Sister Haynes noted that most of the young, first-time mothers have heard varying stories about this part of the process and become worried. Even before the establishment of the support group, nurses spent a lot of time calming the mother during the labour process.

“Another thing we observed is that throughout delivery, they are always screaming and we realised that they were not educated enough on the labour process that was why they were screaming. Therefore, we taught them about the do’s and don’ts and their outcomes and over time, I have observed this has helped.”

Sister Haynes explained that the nurses at the unit form a bond with the pregnant teens, so they are more comfortable with the staff, especially as the time for delivery draws near. Critical to this entire initiative is the parents or guardian of the teens who are also expected to be there every step of the way. “There were nurses in the teenage group that were assigned to ensuring when these patients came, they became familiar with their faces, they are comfortable with them since they have been with them before… At delivery, if it is that they need the guardian with them in the birthing room, we would allow that whether it is a mother or aunt or even if it’s a caregiver,” Sister Haynes added.

Teen pregnancies, according to the Ward Manager, are to be referred to the Maternity Unit for observation. This will help the team in determining very early whether the mother is likely to have complications and to recommend if a vaginal birth or a cesarean section is the best option for delivery.

Also, the initiative of the support group lends heavily to an overarching vision of reducing maternal mortality countrywide. Additionally, the group focuses on the social aspect of the teen’s pregnancy and how it would affect her and how she can be reintegrated into society

Social Worker attached to the Maternity Unit, Shellon Purlett said: “Because they would have become pregnant whilst underage, their case is referred to the Childcare and Protection Agency, but we counsel them first and the most important question we ask is what next? What are their future plans? Objectively, we want to see that child, although she is now a mother, we want to see her finish school, write CXC or do a remedial class.”