India

Manju Chhugani, Uma Handa, and Vijaya Krishnan

Manju Chhugani is an academician, researcher and trainer, and versatile leader in the field of nursing and midwifery with 20 years of extensive hands-on experience in the area of maternal and child health and university teaching. Manju Chhugani brings a unique mix of deep research experience and proven capabilities in leading teams while implementing educational programmes. She holds an office with the Society of Midwives (India), Central, and works tirelessly to achieve safe motherhood in India, working with various International NGOs like UNICEF, UNFPA and the Centre for Development and Population Activities (Cedpa). She is also a member of Global Alliance for Nurses and Midwives and a member of Midwifery Research Advisory Network.

Uma Handa has a BS and an MSc in Nursing with specialization in obstetrics and gynecology. She has worked in the field of nursing since 1974, in nursing educational institutions in both the conventional and distance system, as well as in national and international health agencies. Countries in which she has worked include Sri Lanka, UK, Bangladesh and South Africa (University of Namibia—UNAM). She has received many special awards throughout her career. She speaks English, Hindi (her mother tongue), as well as Punjabi and Marathi.

Vijaya Krishnan is a certified professional midwife (CPM), and the co-founder and director of Healthy Mother Sanctum, Natural Birth Center, and the leading official Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator (LCCE) in India. She is a graduate of the Midwifery Program from National College of Midwifery, USA. She is also a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator and runs the Healthy Mother Lamaze Accredited Childbirth Educator Program, in order to educate and certify Lamaze educators all over India.

At her Natural Birth Center, The Sanctum, she has pioneered a unique Collaborative Model of Care, where women receive independent midwife-led care through pre-conception, pregnancy, labor, birth, and postpartum, with back-up support and emergency infrastructure on site. Since 2009, her birth venter has an overall 94% natural birth rate, even with women with complex needs giving birth naturally, with routine VBACs, VBA2C, twin births, and breech births. She believes strongly that respectful maternity care is the most important key to helping women have an informed and empowered birth.

Vijaya has been inducted as a Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators (FACCE) in recognition of the work she is doing to bring about positive, sustainable change in birth practices in India. She is also the chapter leader of ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network), and runs the Healthy Mother Breastfeeding Support Network in Hyderabad. She sits on the board of advisors of Birth India, a national advocacy organization, which ensures that women have good information to make healthy choices for their entire reproductive cycle. Vijaya’s articles have been published in Midwifery Today, Journal of Perinatal Education, and online in MIDIRS as well. Over the past two years she has lectured widely and run workshops on gentle birth practices at universities and medical/nursing colleges in India, to sensitize the key care providers into adopting these practices widely.
She believes that through education, advocacy, and practice, we can bring sustainable positive change in current birth practices in India, and decrease maternal mortality and morbidity, while using the Midwifery Model of Care.

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