Guya - Your Guide to Parenthood
Demystifying the pregnancy journey and the parenting process by providing different informative classes for expectant couples and first-time parents.
“Don’t drink water. Don’t eat peanuts. Put a ring on a string and hang it over your stomach; if it swings side to side, it’s definitely a girl.”
When it comes to pregnancy, even more has been said. Dealing with unverified and usually false information about pregnancy is a norm for first-time parents, especially in our country. This uncertainty, coupled with fear and anxiety of labor makes the journey even more difficult.
Loline interviewed Asnaketch Negussie, the founder of Guya, a company dedicated to demystifying the pregnancy journey and the parenting process by providing different informative classes for expectant couples and first-time parents.
How it started
It all began when Asnaketch and her husband signed up for the Lamaze class they took in the US. Despite being a health professional, Asnaketch was scared and didn't know how to manage labor pain naturally. And her husband, as a non-health professional, had many questions himself. The Lamaze class offered Asnaketch and her partner a different perspective and helped them navigate pregnancy for the first time. “Lamaze is a birth approach in which they tell you the different options you have. You are expected to make an informed decision about which route you want to take, medical or natural. In contrast, the Bradley approach is about the natural method. As a health professional, I believe in providing the options and letting the couples choose.” Asnaketch explained.
Returning from the US, Asnaketch had to get back to her daily job of treating patients. It posed a challenge for Asnaketch as she had just given birth to her second child. The fact that COVID-19 had just hit the city did not make things easier for her. The patient load at the hospital she was working at and the responsibilities she had to carry out as a mother took a toll on Asnaketch until she eventually decided to take a leave.
That is when Asnaketch took time to think about how else she could use her medical expertise. “Realizing the many benefits of the classes I took back in the US made me want to make them available for every Ethiopian mother. No woman should feel scared and alone during these times. Most men take the back seat when it comes to pregnancy or raising a child; that needs to change. I wanted to answer all the questions first-time parents and expectant couples might have. Guya aspires to clear the fog and anxiety surrounding pregnancy and what comes after by providing clarity.” Asnaketch stated.
Guya offers a wide range of classes to educate parents from the beginning of the birth process to delivery and infant care. Their prepared childbirth class, which is most relevant after the 3rd trimester, gives insight into what to expect during pregnancy and also teaches different methods to cope with labor pain. They have a Breastfeeding class in which mothers learn all the right ways to breastfeed their children. Furthermore, Guya provides couples with Newborn care and Infant first aid classes, alleviating the pain and confusion that comes with not knowing what to do when your infant gets sick. The Prenatal Yoga and Prenatal massage classes aim to reduce stress and make childbirth much easier.
Guya works to guide the overwhelming and often terrifying journey of parenthood. “Most people are fascinated by the idea and believe in its significance. But they hesitate to sign up for the classes.” Asnaketch reveals. As most first-time mothers get advice from the women in their families, it could be tricky. Although they mean well, some of the advice is groundless and absurd. In a 21st century world, it is common for people to google their problems, but the real challenge lies in filtering out the old wives’ tale from the scientifically grounded information. This is where Guya comes in.
Guya has faced challenges from licensing to renting a place for the company. They even used a hotel for the first three couples’ classes. The other challenge was penetrating the market, which was not an easy feat for a new business venture. These kinds of services are common in the rest of the world. “They are as common as follow-ups,” Asnaketch said. She also stated that the mother should not have to embark on this journey alone; her partner should be an advocate for both the mother and the child. “It is about reaching out to the community. It is very fulfilling to know how much the classes have helped ease the fear and anxiety that naturally comes with being a first-time parent,'' she added.
Guya's website has testimonials from the couples about the classes they took, and the response has been nothing but positive.
“I have always wanted to be a surgeon, and my interest naturally gravitates towards science,” Asnaketch told Loline. Even though Asnaketch does not consider herself an “entrepreneur” per se, her team is self-sufficient and shares her dream of normalizing such services. They are up for empowering both the mother and father-to-be. The team at Guya is currently an all-women team that shares a common vision. When challenges are faced, they motivate each other and keep moving toward their goal.
Loline asked where Asnaketch hopes to see Guya in the next five years. “I want these services to be available for every Ethiopian. We want to expand our reach to regional cities and rural areas. We also plan to collaborate with the Ministry of Health and make the services available for free at public health centers. We aim to make the parenting journey less stressful and more enjoyable.” she declared.
Guya lives up to its name by providing first-time parents and expectant couples a sense of security and comfort. Asnaketch did not finish without calling on the community to spread the word and help raise awareness about the classes offered at Guya. “It should be normal to take these classes and become a confident parent capable of holistic child-care.”