Hope Foundation for Women & Children of Bangladesh Update by Guest Blogger Jennifer Burns, CNM, MSN (volunteer at new remote birth centers)
Birth centers with midwifery care are a key component to addressing maternal & neonatal morbidity and mortality around the world. Improving access to skilled maternity care is the only way to directly change outcomes in developing countries. Hope Foundation for Women and Children of Bangladesh has opened four birth centers in remote communities. The model is simple and effective, with one midwife, one midwife assistant and three field workers. They begin with door to door surveys and communication with community leaders about midwifery and birth center care. Field workers are on the front lines connecting with the community to help change a culture, with the goal of improving outcomes for women & children of each community.
Another key component is the monthly Mother’s Club meetings. The midwives and field workers gather women of the community and provide structured education on topics ranging from family planning to breastfeeding. This grassroots style is connecting the women of the community and providing them with a support network and information to make informed decisions about their health care. The groups are guided with love and compassion, transforming each woman and her community.
The options in most rural communities for birth are limited to traditional birth attendants. TBAs attend up to 90% of the births in these areas. Unfortunately, many have no formal medical training, which results in high rates of preventable maternal & infant mortality and in Bangladesh, unacceptably high rates of fistula.
There are moments of clarity when working in developing countries. One that profoundly moved me involved a young woman who came to the birth center in labor. Upon arrival she was bleeding and had a fever. She had been laboring at home for quite awhile and walked over an hour to reach the birth center. The midwife identified the fever and bleeding, and immediately began treatment. The birth was imminent and thanks to her training, she knew exactly what to do. The baby was at least 5 weeks preterm but was born alive and breastfed well. The mother received loving, compassionate midwifery care and potentially life-saving medications for her bleeding and infection. I will never forget looking in her eyes as she held her new baby, thinking to myself, “What would have happened to her three months ago prior to this birth center opening?” Luckily, with the dedication of the Hope Foundation we will never know.
HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY TO ALL! WE ARE GRATEFUL BEYOND WORDS FOR EACH SAFE DELIVERY AND THE COURAGE OF MOTHERS TO GIVE LIFE! WITH LOVE, KAY