Reasons for our recommendations: an introduction
The Italian non-profit organisation “Il Melograno Centro Informazione Maternità e Nascita” has been supporting women and couples for 40 years throughout the entire journey from pregnancy, childbirth, puerperium, breastfeeding and the first years of a child’s life.
In recent years, the commitment of Melograno has focused on ensuring that all the rights of mothers and their children are guaranteed in childbirth centres: the respect of personal choices, individuality, and diversity, supporting the physiological rhythms of the female body, the right to proximity between mother and child in the immediate postpartum, the right to the presence of family members, the right to a welcoming and intimate environment.
At the same time, the work of Melograno has been directed towards a social acceptance and recognition of birth as a “common good”, as an event that is important for the entire community and should not be experienced in solitude and isolation. These feelings can be experienced by all women for various reasons, including the onset of a pathology. The onset of a cancer during pregnancy represents an event with a very strong emotional, physical and psychosocial impact. Both pregnancy and cancer, at their appearance, disorient, frighten, trigger a thousand questions, a thousand anxieties and every woman manages these emotions by mobilizing their resources individually and independently.
But what can health workers do to assist women who live with this condition to ensure they have a positive birth experience? Health workers must be trained according to international standards to acquire greater competence in interpersonal communication and counselling skills, to offer the woman and her family the support and information they need in a clear, colloquial language, avoiding medical terminology that is difficult to understand.
The scientific literature is available on an early diagnosis and a more appropriate therapy for the mother and the safety of the child, but the same cannot be said about the need of the woman to experience, like all other women, the “normality of pregnancy” and motherhood. In such a situation, the woman needs to find her own balance between pregnancy, the desire for a physiological birth and the medical rigor imposed by an oncological pathology.
Il Melograno has explored these issues in depth through the Erasmus Plus project “Developing maternal health professionals’ capacity to facilitate a positive maternity experience for women with cancer”; to promote for these women a path of physiology during pregnancy, labour, delivery and postpartum with a paradigm shift: to consider pregnancy and childbirth as protective factors for both mother and child.
Romana Prosperi Porta
President of Il Melograno Maternity and Birth Information Centre of Rome.
PosMat Project Coordinator