Limassol birth clinic hopes to counter Cyprus’ c-section culture

In a bid to counter the high number of caesarean sections on the island, Cyprus’ health services organisation Okypy on Tuesday showcased the only natural childbirth clinic in the country.

Marking just over a year since its operation which began in May 2019, Okypy head of strategic planning and marketing Marinos Shaxiates said it was important to raise awareness of the clinic and the options it offers.

A water birthing tub is available, exercise balls, a birth support rope, and midwives dedicated to supporting women in the process of childbirth.

There is no intervention from staff in terms of using an IV or stimulating contractions.

In 2018, Cyprus had the highest rate of caesarean deliveries out of 31 European countries, with 56.9 per cent of babies born this way.

“This is why we want to showcase this clinic and raise awareness,” Shaxiates told the Cyprus Mail.

“The standard of services offered here are very high.”

The clinic, on the first floor of Limassol general hospital, is a “warm and welcoming place, which does not remind one of the coldness of an operating room or a hospital room,” senior midwife, Evangelia Vanezou said.

“A woman has the option to choose the position of childbirth. She follows her body and manages pain using various techniques such as breathing exercises that we teach in prenatal classes, special seating positions using exercise balls, a relaxing massage from her partner or a midwife or use the birthing tub with warm water.

“It is a unique experience both for couples and for us.”

It is named Margarita Yiakoumi, after one of their own, a fellow midwife, who died “before her time.”

Vanezou said the advantages of natural birth are countless. “There is faster recovery, no restrictions after giving birth and even the confidence that a mother feels that she delivered naturally, in the way her body was designed.”

After delivery, skin to skin contact is implemented, there is a two or three minute delay before the umbilical cord is cut and breastfeeding is encouraged.

Shaxiates notes that first and foremost, a woman’s needs and requirements are respected. Naturally, if it is necessary that a woman must deliver her child using a caesarean, or chooses to, this is respected.

“The point is to highlight the options that are available,” Shaxiates said.

“Many women do not even know this clinic exists.”

The unit welcomes pregnant women’s partners and also has a separate kitchenette which couples can use.

According to senior midwife Maria Constantinou, the maternity ward offers support services such prenatal classes both to expecting mothers and their partners, as well as all the necessary checks such as ultrasounds.

A 24-hour hotline is available for maternity advice at 25801403. In total, 27 beds are available in the maternity ward.