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BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, UK (BAPS), hosted its first Mother and Baby Welfare Workshop on Saturday 20 December 2008 at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Neasden, London.

The aim of the event was to provide vital guidance to new and expectant mothers about some of the important issues surrounding one of the most significant times in their lives.

Over twenty new and expectant mothers participated in the workshop which incorporated interactive talks, multimedia presentations, and demonstrations using various aids and apparatus.

The session began with Sheetal Raja, an experienced mother, sharing practical advice about breastfeeding. She went on to discuss postnatal care for both mother and the newborn child.

Swetha Patel, a qualified pharmacist, spoke on the welfare benefits available to mothers during pregnancy and up to one year after childbirth. This included information about prescriptions and clubs to join for free services and products.

Physiotherapist Ripal Patel explained at length the importance of proper posture and alignment during pregnancy to decrease fatigue and low back and neck pain. She demonstrated correct methods for lifting, bending, sleeping, and generally being comfortable. She also offered practical guidance on exercises and relaxation techniques for both before and after childbirth.

With the help of Poonam Patel, a midwife, expectant mothers also learnt how best to deal with labour, both physically and emotionally.

Dr Kamini Rao of Princess Alexandra Hospital concluded the workshop with an insightful presentation covering the various stages of pregnancy. She spoke on what is available in the form of prenatal care, what preparations should be made before delivery, the onset and experience of labour itself (including options for pain relief), what to expect immediately after giving birth, and postnatal precautions for the safety of both mother and child.

The workshop proved a great success among the attendees. It provided valuable information and guidance to young women to help them make one of the most important experiences of their lives as safe, comfortable and memorable as possible.

One young mother commented, “I just wasn’t aware of the amount of free services and things I am eligible for. This is going to be really helpful, especially in these tough financial times.”

Another attendee, a first-time mother-to-be, added, “I have read about some of these things before but having it explained practically in simple language and coming from the professionals was very reassuring…. Thank you for relieving me of so many of my worries and doubts.”

Madhu Chudasama, head of BAPS UK’s Child Welfare Department and a leading member of the young women’s forum, explained that the workshop was a part of “BAPS’s commitment to provide holistic support to a member at every stage of her life.” “We see it as the Mandir’s role,” she added, “to be a place where women feel safe, confident and inspired, and a part of that comes from being able to receive expert practical help – both spiritual and for all aspects of life.”

Similar workshops planned for young parents will cover topics such as massaging for newborn babies and basic first aid for children.

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