Kate, left, with new mum Veronica, and Harriett Earp, a recently-qualified midwife from King's College, London.
A SOUTH Wales graduate has been on a journey of discovery to find out why mums in South Africa shun natural births in favour of caesarean delivery.
Kate Jones, 21, from Bridgend, who recently gained first-class honours in her midwife degree at the University of South Wales (USW), spent a month meeting new mums in the area around the country’s capital, Cape Town.
The former pupil of Ysgol Brynteg in Bridgend took the trip as part of her studies, and received a £1,000 travel scholarship from the Worshipful Livery Company of Wales.
“I spent a lot of time in Africa as a child, my father is treasurer of charity Tŷ Cariad Africa in Uganda and I also had family in Zambia, so I really wanted to go to South Africa to look at this,” Kate explained.
“The country has a massive rate of caesarean births – in many places it’s between 70% and 90% - and I was keen to find out why.”
Kate discovered that the cultural norm was for women to choose a caesarean birth, and this was backed up by the views of other mums.
“South Africa is very different from the UK, in the fact that expectant mums see doctors throughout their pregnancy,” she said.
“This means that the women have the chance to opt for a caesarean, even if it’s not necessary.
“Add to this the peer pressure that many feel – having a natural birth is seen as out of the ordinary – then the figures aren’t all that surprising.
“Here, doctors only get involved if there are complications and midwives take responsibility for the majority of the care.”
Now back in the UK and waiting for final accreditation before starting her work as a midwife with Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board, Kate has used the South Africa visit to help expand her knowledge of different cultural approaches to childbirth.
“I wasn’t sure what I would discover, but it was interesting to see how what we do in the UK can be very different to what happens in other countries,” Kate said.
“The trip was a real eye-opener, and helped me further develop my skills as I start my career in the health service.”