All posts filed under: Maternal and Newborn Health

International Day for Maternal Health and Rights: A Call for Action

Post written by Serra Sippel and Bergen Cooper. The International Day for Maternal Health and Rights was launched in 2014 by the Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE) with other global sexual and reproductive health and rights organizations with support growing every year since. On behalf of the International Day for Maternal Health and Rights Steering Committee (including the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, Ibis Reproductive Health, Maternal Health Task Force, Pathfinder International, and The White Ribbon Alliance) we are calling on the United Nations to support universal, comprehensive, respectful, and rights-based maternal health by officially recognizing April 11th as International Day for Maternal Health and Rights. Maternal rights violations continue to persist and the United Nations’ recognition of this day would bring much-needed attention and funding to address health and rights challenges so many women face. Approximately 303,000 women die from complications of pregnancy and childbirth each year, and most of these deaths are preventable. Over the past decade the evidence for how women too often experience disrespect and abuse during childbirth has grown. …

Activism in Indonesia: a movement for change

It has been a couple of weeks since I got back home from an intense week in Indonesia. With our project Let’s Talk Equality, my project partner Anna and I visited several organizations and doctors in the suburbs of Jakarta and Bali. The objective of the trip was to gather footage for our documentary on maternal health in Sweden and Indonesia. I was completely blown away by the positive energy present in every office I visited. Despite facing a lot of resistance, people were determined and confident that it was worth all the work. Having tried to understand the slow and difficult process for change in Indonesia, I will try to share some of my observations here, before the launch of our documentary later this spring. Having grown up in Sweden, I was raised under the impression that certain privileges were certainties. Like legal abortions. Low maternal mortality rates. Free contraception. Paid paternity leave. The right to love regardless of gender. In Indonesia, none of these “certainties” exist. In fact, abortion is illegal. As is homosexuality. Parental leave is exclusive for mothers and …

Tragedy to Triumph: How sewing lessons are changing the lives of women with fistula

Written by Samantha Bossalini, Development and Communications Associate  The city of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania is anything but quiet. An increasingly modern metropolis overlooking the Indian Ocean, Dar is home to 4.4 million people, and is one of the fastest growing cities on the African continent. It’s a cacophony of noises, sounds, colors, and smells; ironic for a city whose name means “Place of Peace.” On one of Dar’s residential streets, however, there is a peaceful haven. Behind a stone wall sits the Mabinti Centre. The simple house hums with the sound of sewing machines.  The women working at the machines range in age from 16 to 30-years-old. They greet visitors with smiles and a warm welcome: “Karibu!” Bright kanga fabric and canvas slips beneath their whirring needles as an instructor crouches down to talk them through a difficult stitch, or to share encouragement. In the garden, ladies gather under a thatched gazebo to practice screen-printing on bolts of fabric. Some are learning to tie-dye, some to stitch tiny dolls made of beads and yarn. …

Postpartum Depression and the Danger of ‘Bad Mom’ Stigma

“I felt so trapped, like I had a made a huge mistake in having my child.” It’s heart-wrenching to imagine any mother having to say these words about her own child merely days after giving birth. But while interviewing Serena*, a young, resilient, postpartum depression (PPD) survivor last year, I was taken by surprise by this phrase. Serena’s story about her struggles as a mother suffering from PPD were poignant. From difficulties getting out bed and taking care of herself, to a severe emotional disconnection from her own child and family, Serena suffered for weeks after giving birth to her first child. She felt unsupported and, after hearing accounts of mothers who were enjoying motherhood, she soon labeled herself a “bad mom” which caused her depression to deepen further. It was not until she found a support group with other women going through similar struggles that she regained her strength and spirits. In the peer group, she found solace in knowing she wasn’t alone and that she was not indeed, a bad mother. The women who …

UN Experts Call for Action on Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes

Breastfeeding is recognized as a human rights issue for both mothers and babies, and those who wish to breastfeed their children have the right to unbiased and accurate information to be able to make informed choices. There are numerous barriers facing women worldwide in regards of optimal breastfeeding. Inappropriate and varying knowledge and skills among healthcare workers, non-existent maternity leave and non-supportive cultural practices are only a few that affect and hinder women who wish to breastfeed. On November 22nd, a joint statement by a group of UN experts was released to urge action on one major obstacle: the marketing of breastmilk substitutes, also known as formula. Together, they call upon Member States to implement legal measures to protect babies and mothers from misleading, and often aggressive marketing. Let’s have a look at some facts: Global sales of breast-milk substitutes total US$ 44.8 billion In 2019, the number is expected to rise to US$ 70.6 billion Of 194 countries analyzed, 135 have some form of legal measure in place related to the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes (also …

My Attempts at Facilitating Change in Rural India

In my final year of medical school, as I was reading a chapter on Maternal and Child Health, I came across a table of mortality rates elaborating the health status of mothers and children of my country. They were dismal and though I could see that progress had been made, to my 20 year old brain, it seemed insufficient and too slow to be accepted. After all, these were lives and not just numbers! The rural-urban difference made the figures look worse. I was restless. How could I bridge this gap? I reasoned – a woman was the base of the society’s pyramid and if I could do something to strengthen her I could attempt to address this gap. I was also convinced that since most of India’s population lived in rural areas, in order to make a significant impact, I should focus on rural areas. Though I had been reared in a city and had never seen what a village looked like, I was ready to learn along the way. Itching to materialise this dream, …

Help Fund Girls’ Globe Bloggers’ Documentary on Maternal Health in Indonesia

Did you know that 800 mothers die every day during child labour? That 3 million children are stillborn every year? And that 3000 newborns die every day? Anna and Tilde, high school students and bloggers, want to make a change for the case of maternal health. Let us introduce Project Let’s Talk Equality. Through a course in social entrepreneurship, and a burning passion for gender equality and maternal health, we wanted to take the opportunity to do something about the current midwife crisis. Let’s Talk Equality serves to expand the conversation on maternal health. It’s important to get more grassroots movements involved, to fight for girls and women, and to inspire others to make a change. We can’t have an equal world without improving the situation for mothers, and in order to make a change we need more volunteers and grassroots movements that care deeply about these issues. Therefore, we met up with one of these important organisations during the United Nations General Assembly Week in New York City – the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood (WRA). They work on a …

The Arduous Process of Getting Pregnant: Infertility and IVF

Whenever I’m feeling a bit down, or if I struggle to fall asleep in the night, I tend to go back to the time when my husband Jakob and I decided that we wanted to have a baby. So far, this is the sunshine story of my life. While trying to wrap my head around the fact that Donald Trump has been elected President of the (not so) United States, I’ve been finding it hard to come up with ideas for an inspiring post. Sadly and unfortunately, this sorry excuse for a man has been occupying my mind and for a brief moment, I feel like I need to go to my “happy place” to be able to combat my somewhat darker thoughts, and to regain energy. We had been together for about a year and a half when Jakob was diagnosed with testicular cancer. I vividly remember everything from that doctor’s appointment in February 2013 – the look on the doctor’s face while doing the ultrasound screening, and that moment when Jakob and I …

World Prematurity Day 2016 – The Simplest of Interventions that Saves Lives

Each year more than 15 million babies are born prematurely, many of whom die within their first few days of life. Today, on World Prematurity Day 2016, we are shedding light on one of the most effective, yet basic interventions: Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC). With exclusive breastfeeding being one of its essential components, this method has the potential to save the lives of babies born prematurely. This week, in connection with World Prematurity Day, Save the Children announced that representatives of major international and U.S. associations for health professionals will come together and endorse a joint statement recommending the universal use of KMC for all preterm and low birth weight infants. So, what does Kangaroo Mother Care entail and why do we need it? KMC is a method of care practiced on newborn children – usually preterm (born before 37 weeks of pregnancy), low birthweight infants – where the mother, father or another carer functions as a natural incubator, providing heat, stimulation and feeding to the baby. The newborn, only wearing a nappy and a …

The Vital Need for Data to Improve Maternal Health

Globally and daily, around 830 women die from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth – equivalent to nearly 35 women an hour. This results in over 300 000 maternal deaths each year – deaths that could be prevented if adequate care was provided. Skilled care before, during and after birth has been identified as one of the key strategies to reducing maternal deaths, a care that 25% of women still do not have access to. Bernice lives with her father and her four younger siblings in a small rural village in the north of Burundi. Her family, along with eight out of ten Burundians, live below the poverty line, and they depend fully on their household food crop production for their survival. Due to several droughts lately, they are currently facing severe food shortage. Bernice is pregnant with her first child, and even though she’s more than half way through her pregnancy, she hasn’t yet seen a doctor. She is severely malnourished, putting both her and her baby at an elevated risk of complications. Two years …