A health educator in Luapula Province has disclosed that Government policy allows men to give emotional support to their wives in labor by being with them throughout the delivery process where the environment permits confidentiality and privacy.
Luapula Province Medical Health Educator Mrs. Winfridah Mulenga disclosed this during the orientation workshop on respectful midwifery care at Mansa Lodge on Thursday last week.
Mrs. Mulenga said Government’s policy is that male involvement in issues of integrated reproductive health should be all encompassing at every stage of reproductive health including delivery of the baby in the labor ward when the environment is permissible.
She said men have only been involved at first antenatal care and there after men are sent away but Government’s position is that men should be involved at every stage so that they also help in making informed decisions regarding their reproductive health as a family.
Mrs. Mulenga said women have been given a lot of health information and knowledge about reproductive health issues while their male counterparts were lagging behind.
She said husbands should be present when their wives are giving birth to their babies so that they appreciate the need for effective family planning and the need for continuous support for their spouses.
The Provincial Health Educator said delivering women should come with their husbands to the labor ward and if there are no other women in the labor ward, the husband of the only woman who has come to deliver should be allowed to sit in and witness the delivery for them to appreciate reproductive health issues and participate in an informed way in effective family planning.
Mrs. Mulenga stated that the few men who have witnessed their wives in labor have been transformed and have become effective ambassadors of family planning issues.
She however cautioned that situations that could expose other women in labor to men who are not their spouses should be prevented and avoided but it is a right of men to support their wives in labor by being present when there are no other women in the labor facility.
Mrs. Mulenga explained that delivering women also have a right to choose a Midwife of their choice to deliver them when their time for delivery has come because Government wants the women to make such decisions in advance for them to deliver with a free mind.
She testified that in 2007, she booked a named male midwife to deliver her because it is a client’s right to book a midwife of her choice to deliver her where the opportunity to choose exists especially in urban health facilities.
Mrs. Mulenga said in the current situation, even when the preferred midwife is off duty, she can be called by the client that she is due and the preferred midwife should not be misunderstood because clients have a right to choose who should deliver them.
She emphasized that it is international practice to which Zambia is part to allow male involvement at every stage of family planning and giving delivering mothers choices of their preference on midwives to deliver.
Mrs Mulenga observed that information has not been disseminated enough for people to know their rights and the need to be involved at every stage of reproductive health and family planning.
Luapula Province Disease Control Specialist based at the Provincial Medical Office Dr. Victor Chalwe testified how he sat through the delivery of his first child to provide emotional support to his wife which was a rewarding experience for his marriage but later got disappointed when he escorted his wife during their third delivery because he was sent away by the midwives on duty that he was not supposed to be present when his wife was in labor.
But Mrs. Mulenga reiterated government policy that men should be involved at every stage of family planning and reproductive health practices including providing emotional support when their wives are in labor as long as the environment is conducive for them to be present without compromising the privacy of other women who could have come to the facility to deliver.
She said if there is only one woman who has come for delivery accompanied by her husband and the labor ward is not occupied, it is important to invite the husband in to sit through and encourage his wife during the delivery process for him to appreciate what women go through and help his wife objectively in making decisions about their reproductive health and family planning.