Category Archives: newborn health

Better Maternal Care in Africa Can Save Women from Suffering in Childbirth

Kareemah Gamieldien, Cape Peninsula University of Technology

Every year just over 500,000 women die from complications in pregnancy and childbirth across the world. Another 20 million experience severe complications. But many of these complications are entirely avoidable – including obstructed and protracted labour and one of its side-effects, obstetric fistula.

An obstetric fistula is a hole in the birth canal between the vagina and the rectum or between the vagina and the bladder that is largely caused by obstructed and prolonged labour. This can occur when the mother’s pelvis is too small or the baby is too large.

In sub-Saharan Africa for every 100,000 deliveries there are about 124 women who suffer an obstetric fistula in a rural area. Obstetric fistulas predominantly happen when women do not have access to quality emergency obstetric-care services. Antenatal care could help to identify potential problems early but will not have an impact if there is no skilled surgeon to assist with the labour.

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[Updated] Photographer Captures the Realities of Maternal Health in Haiti

B.D. Colen, a documentary photographer, is currently in Haiti with our partner Midwives for Haiti capturing the realities of maternal health for many Haitian women who live in the country’s poor Central Plateau. The mothers who receive care from Midwives for Haiti are the lucky ones. They have access to prenatal care at mobile clinics in the region as well as in far-off villages with traditional birth attendants or matrones as they are called in Creole. Expectant mothers are also afforded quality labor and delivery as well as postnatal care in the hospital. Midwives for Haiti also teaches matrones how to perform safe, clean births for women who object to delivering in the hospital or for those who want to deliver in the hospital but it’s too far and they cannot afford transport.

As you may recall, I spent a few days in Hinche, Haiti and visited L’Hôpital Sainte-Thérèse earlier this year with Midwives for Haiti. There, I spent time with the visiting certified nurse midwives as they did rounds. Read my piece: Maternity Ward Observations: Midwifery Care in a Haitian Hospital.

Colen is documenting Midwives for Haiti’s work at their mobile clinic as well as at L’Hôpital Sainte-Thérèse. He has also visited mothers’ home.

Below are photos he has posted this week. Follow him @TheBDColen.


8/ 24/ 15: Updated to include additional posted photos from B.D. Colen.

Continue reading [Updated] Photographer Captures the Realities of Maternal Health in Haiti

Kenya is a Breastfeeding Success Story But Still Has Its Challenges

By Elizabeth Kimani-Murage, Brown University

Breastfeeding has both short-term and long-term nutritional benefits for children. Nutrition is central to sustainable development. Good nutrition in the first 1000 days of a child’s life is critical for child growth, well being and survival, and future productivity.

The World Health Organisation recommends exclusive breastfeeding for children until they are six months old and continued breastfeeding with appropriate complementary feedings until children are two, for optimal growth and development.

What Kenya did right

Kenya has seen a remarkable growth in exclusive breastfeeding for children under six months old. In 2003 only 13% of mothers were breastfeeding exclusively. This year, according to the National Demographic and Health Survey, 61% of mothers of children aged less than six months were breastfeeding exclusively.

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An Increasing Number of Normal Weight and Term Babies Are Admitted to American NICUs

A study conducted by two Dartmouth researchers reveals an increasing number of normal weight and term babies are being cared for in hospitals’ NICUs across the country calling into question the reasoning behind intensive care for healthy babies. Tracking births from January 2007 through December 2012 the study conducted by Wade Harrison, MPH, and David Goodman, MD, MS, of The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice found a 23 percent increase in NICU stays for normal weight and term babies.

In their paper, Epidemiologic Trends in Neonatal Intensive Care, published this month in JAMA Pediatrics, Harrison and Goodman admit there are no definitive reasons why the increase is steadily occurring, although they do sound the alarm that a pattern was discovered across 18 million live births.

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New Bill is Committed to Reducing Maternal, Newborn, and Child Mortality

Today a new bipartisan bill, The Reach Every Mother and Child Act, was introduced to the Senate by Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Chris Coons (D-Del). The Reach Every Mother and Child Act will build upon decades-old work of the United States being a leader on drastically reducing maternal, newborn, and child mortality. In fact, this new bill will help save the lives of 15 million children and 600,000 women by 2020.

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