Krishnan Sakotai and Dr.Vijaya Krishnan, Founder, Healthy Mother Wellness and Care

6th Jun 2010
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Giving Birth to a New World!

The greatest concern of all mothers to be and the medical specialists are the successful delivery of the child. Normal birth as opposed to abdominal birth or caesarean section method has been described throughout ages as nature’s stunning process. And this phenomenon is the aim of the organization, Healthy Mother Wellness and care. Healthy Mother Wellness and care is the brainchild of Krishnan Sakotia and Dr. Vijaya Krishnan. YourStory had a chat with the duo where they told us about their innovative venture and their entrepreneurial aspirations.

Tell us something about Healthy Mother Wellness and Care?

Healthy Mother Wellness & Care, is India's only institutional provider of maternity services based on the Midwifery Model of Care. We provide wellness programs for expectant mothers with a focus on Natural Birth. In our Lamaze classes would be mothers learn scientific facts about wellness in pregnancy, and gain the knowledge, and confidence in their own bodies’ ability to give birth naturally, without unnecessary medical intervention. We run a Natural Birthing Center, The Sanctum™ where mothers have full freedom to labor on their own terms for as long as they and their babies are healthy. We provide antenatal checkups, labor support, childbirth, postpartum and newborn care at The Sanctum. We have had Water Births, and helped previous c-section mothers give birth naturally. Though we have a dedicated focus on Natural Birth, our center is backed by an up-to-date medical emergency infrastructure if required. We also conduct Lamaze Teacher Training programs to train aspiring Lamaze teachers.

What basic business idea do you follow?

We noticed that in India birth has become so dependent on medical technology and procedure oriented that the system treats childbirth as yet another disease that needs to be “treated”. It has become so far removed from what nature intended it to be and from how our grandmothers traditionally gave birth. We realized that are creating a generation full of women with scars on their uterus and who do not know what it is to “give birth” to their baby. This is a social malaise that is spreading like wildfire across urban and semi-urban India. We decided that we should be the catalyst for a change movement that gave back to mothers the power of giving birth to their babies on their own, without unnecessary medical intervention.

Whats sets you apart from the crowd?

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Dr Vijaya

We are different from other maternity services providers in that we consider the mother as the most important figure in birth, and not doctors, technology or procedures. We do not recommend drugs, IVs, scans etc for our customers except in case of a clear medical need. While mothers labor at our birthing center, we are with them 24 hours non-stop, and give them encouragement, confidence and privacy so that they are emotionally and physically well supported. After birth, we take the time to teach mothers how to breastfeed their newborn, as well as educate them on newborn care as well as self care. We are available 24 hours over phone to support new mothers through any fears, difficulties or questions.Our business model is simple – we are a trusted care provider, adviser, friend to expectant mothers right from pre-conception, pregnancy, labor, childbirth, postpartum to new motherhood. Our model of care is holistic, empowering, safe and respectful, and yet is based on evidence based practice, recommended by World Health Organization.

What inspired you to start a innovative venture like this?

A desire for effecting social change in birth practices in India where cesarean rates are as high as 80% in many hospitals across cities and towns is what inspired us for Healthy Mother Wellness and Care.

What hurdles and hiccups did you go through in your journey?

Any change movement is difficult and success is built one brick at a time. Our biggest challenge has been (and still is) to convince the prevailing maternity care system to change their practices. We are finding that through educating our customers, and other care providers we are able to make headway, albeit one mother at a time. Also, being a husband and wife team we have had to “bring work home” many times. Our kids have had to make sacrifices many times as we had to juggle our work so that at least one of us is with them during holidays or vacations.

And far as the mistakes go we have not made any drastic mistakes so far (we know we will make mistakes and lots of them as we go along) we find that recruiting staff who is dedicated and passionate about our vision and philosophy is difficult.

Did you ever feel like giving up?

NO, Passion and the conviction that we are doing the right thing for our mothers is what drives us. Further, overwhelming support from our present and past customers motivates us to start each new day with renewed dedication. One of our customers celebrated her daughter’s first birthday at our birthing center – something like that makes the work we do worthwhile.

What is your vision for the future?

Our vision is to bring about a sustained, positive change movement in birth practices in urban and semi-urban India from an over-medicalized system which views pregnancy as a disease, mothers as patients, and birth as a medical and surgical procedure, to one that celebrates natural birth, with the mother as the central figure in it, and which provides her the dignity, support and confidence to give birth on her own without unnecessary medical intervention. We plan to start more Lamaze Education programs and Birthing Centers in other cities and towns across India. Our first branch outside Hyderabad will be operational in Bangalore in August 2010.

Tell us about your achievements and moments of recognitions.

We have extremely loyal customers. One-third of customers come from word-of-mouth reference from existing or past customers. Our services have created a new awareness among young educated women about the benefits of trusting their own bodies to give birth naturally. This is the biggest achievement we enjoy.

Also, we have been recognized by Lamaze International for our work in spreading awareness in India about safe, healthy natural birth practices. We also have been invited by Rotary Club to talk about natural birth practices. In our mission to effect positive change in birth practices, we are also trying to educate future doctors and sensitize them. In this regard we were invited by NRI Medical College in Guntur, A.P. for a seminar on Lamaze Philosophy of Natural Birth.

What words of advice would you like to give to our coming generation of entrepreneurs?

Stay excited and committed to your mission and be totally customer focused. There will be numerous pitfalls, but success is earned the hard way – there is NO shortcut.

YourStory wishes this duo all the luck and success with Healthy Mother Welfare and Care.

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