Welcome back to The Mom Pod! After a brief summer break, we are excited to continue with our podcast series and continue to bring you interesting, sincere and thought provoking podcasts on all things related to pregnancy, motherhood, parenthood and babies around the world!
Starting from today, our new episodes will now air every other week on Mondays – to mark the important #MaternalMonday advocacy campaign by the Wellbeing Foundation Africa. The #MaternalMonday social media campaign brings awareness to the importance of ensuring a safe and healthy pregnancy and delivery for mothers and babies everywhere in the world. To participate, head over to Twitter, follow @Maternal_Monday and join the conversation with the hashtag #MaternalMonday, or visit their website to learn more.
In this episode of The Mom Pod, we take a closer look at the state of maternal health and midwifery in one particular African country: Tanzania. I had the pleasure to visit a great organization, Maternity Africa, based in the Selian hospital in Arusha, Tanzania, where I interviewed a few of their midwives and nurses about maternal and newborn health and their experiences as midwives. Katie, Sarah and Neema told me about the many challenges they face in their day to day work, ranging from lack of basic supplies like medicine and oxygen to challenging attitudes in the medical profession – but these challenges pale in comparison to the unimaginable difficulties pregnant women face just to obtain the very basic and minimum level of care during their pregnancy and in labor, such as having to walk tens of miles to the nearest clinic if they wish to give birth with a trained birth attendant in a medical facility. I’ve given birth – and while in labor, I could barely walk from the bed to the bathroom. Imagine walking miles and miles and miles, under the sun and the heat, often on very bad roads – while in labor. Would you go and look for medical care – or would you take your chances birthing at home without any trained assistance?
Many women continue to die during pregnancy or childbirth needlessly in Tanzania, often because they lack access to proper prenatal and postnatal care – but midwives like Katie, Sarah and Neema are working tirelessly day in and day out to ensure that the women in their care come out of pregnancy and birth alive and well, with a healthy baby to take home. This isn’t always the case – but at least the women who come to Selian hospital and to Maternity Africa are getting treatment from trained, skilled health personnel who treat them with respect and dignity. Something every single mother, everywhere around the world, should have access to. Midwives all around the world are doing their very best to keep mothers safe and well during pregnancy and birth, and ensure babies stay healthy in the womb and outside of it – and some really amazing work is happening right here, in Selian hospital, in Arusha, Tanzania.
Maternity Africa’s work is divided into two main areas – fistula prevention, which includes the maternal health work that Katie and her fellow midwives do – and fistula repair, which you will learn more about in another episode airing in October. If you are interested to learn more about Maternity Africa, visit their website and Facebook page – and if you are a midwife or nurse, perhaps look into lending your skills to very good use and volunteer with them or with another similar organization. I can’t imagine a more impactful way to make a difference in this world. After all, mothers and babies deserve the very best. If we are failing them, we’re failing at the most important task imaginable.
Cover image: UNFPA Flickr / Abbie Trayler-Smith