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Antenatal classes launched in Samoa

Antenatal classes run by a private medical practitioner has opened in Apia, offering pregnant women and their partners the chance to prepare for labour and the delivery of their newborn child.

Tagged the “bump and beyond” antenatal classes, private practitioner Dr Salote Timuiapaepaetele Pearl Vaai told the Samoa Observer in an email response that the classes are designed to assist pregnant women and their partners as well as families enjoy a positive pregnancy experience, learn about changes in their pregnancy and prepare for labor and delivery.

She said the classes will provide some support for what parents will expect in the first few weeks of their baby's life. As in places like New Zealand, Dr Salote said antenatal classes are designed to prepare both mothers and fathers for the journey that is pregnancy and childbirth.

The first classes held last Saturday at the MY Fitness Studio attracted four couples with another three who registered unable to attend. But the numbers are expected to grow as they have received positive feedback on social media. 

Dr Salote said since the classes are new and privately-run, there are no measurable data available. However, she said there is overwhelming evidence that such classes make mothers and fathers aware, and have better experiences in pregnancy and labor – consequently better health outcomes overall.

The antenatal classes are run privately as part of the work of “Health in Her Hands”, which is a startup organisation that strives to drive social impact in women’s health in Samoa.

Dr Salote recently attended the Seedstars Training Workshop – which was made available through the support of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (D.F.A.T.) and the Samoa Chamber of Commerce – and was inspired to launch and begin work on some of her own ideas with the antenatal classes being one of them.

"Antenatal classes help to provide accurate information. Information is key to understanding and preparing for the many changes that pregnancy, childbirth and child-rearing brings," she said. 

"In Samoa, pregnant women are able to learn about pregnancy and childbirth from their sisters, mothers, midwives at the different district hospitals, and Google. Unfortunately, along the way, sometimes information changes or inaccurate information is relayed or stories are taken out of context." 

Dr Salote said most of the revenue generated from the privately-run classes will be earmarked for the next phase of her project, which is an online platform that will have information on women's health in Samoa.

"The 'Bump and Beyond' antenatal classes is the first step of what we hope will eventually be a norm for Samoa. It would be great to one day have several antenatal classes running for pregnant women to attend locally. The dream is that these classes will soon be available for all women, including those in Savai'i and rural Upolu." 

While it is early days yet, Dr Salote said their first participants last Saturday enjoyed the session and shared their experiences with the class.

"Many women are excited to know the service is now available. Our first participants enjoyed the class and verbalised their satisfaction with the class, especially the reassurance that good information can provide."

The antenatal class is also having a following on social media with Dr Salote saying those who live abroad – but are following the class on social media – might have innovative ideas to assist their work and should get in touch. 

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