Health care workersStarting from Mothers Day on 11 May, pregnant women in the Western Cape are being given a little book to answer all their questions thanks to the provincial department of health and the Perinatal Mental Health Project (PMHP).

The booklet covers topics such as “healthy pregnancy” and “safe birth,”  as well as mental health, birth companionship and being safe from domestic violence.

There is also a chapter describing the new Code for Patient-Centred Maternity Care, which describes the Department of Health’s initiative to enshrine the rights of all mothers to dignity and evidence-based maternity care.

The mother-friendly booklet is free and  designed in an easy-to-read format with engaging illustrations. Details are provided of a range of resources that are available for mothers and fathers with particular needs.

“The aim of the booklet is to provide the pregnant woman, her partner and family with knowledge regarding a healthy pregnancy and to enhance the pregnancy outcomes of both mother and baby,” says Edna Arends, Deputy Director of Maternal, Women and Child Health in the health department.

Dr Keith Cloete, Chief Director Metro District Health Services and leader of the ‘Code’ initiative says, “An essential part of providing a patient-centred maternity service, is to have an informed and empowered pregnant client that can engage the health care providers in an assertive manner to ensure that her specific needs and expectations are met. This booklet will go a long way to achieving this objective.”

PMHP Director and the booklet’s co-author Dr Simone Honikman says, “This is a great opportunity to provide a comprehensive and accessible compendium of health information for mothers. Through our work with mothers at the PMHP, we have found that when mothers are equipped with digestible information and learn about their choices, their anxiety reduces and they are better able to become their own agents for physical and mental health.”

The PMHP has also produced a separate booklet for pregnant teenagers and one for nurses that focuses on caring for the carer. These, together with other resources for health workers, are available for free download at