Written By Rina Miller, SEA Cooperative
Women are strong, yet vulnerable. Many experience maltreatment during labor and poor care after birth. It is very heartbreaking to hear stories like this because I am a woman and I gave birth just like them, and so I want to care for them. Maternal mortality is higher in women living in rural areas and among poorer communities. We can lower this mortality rate when health care professionals give new mothers a little extra time and care checking on them. It can save lives.
According to the World Health Organization, approximately 830 women around the globe die each day from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. (1) A large percentage of maternal deaths occur in developing countries, which includes the Philippines. Some women are scared to give birth in the hospital because of fear, not only the fear of giving birth but the fear of not having a good birth experience. I believe all women who are pregnant deserve to be respected and cared for during and after childbirth.
I am so thankful for the opportunity to go on weekly postpartum visits for women who previously gave birth at the Mercy in Action Birthing Clinic. Together with a midwife named Mitch, we visit different families in Tanauan, Leyte, we check the mother’s vitals and those of their precious little ones, and also encourage them to keep breastfeeding and stay healthy.
It is a very humbling moment to see mothers surprised and thankful for the time we check on them. A lot of them never experience a visit from a midwife or maternal health professional after they give birth. It is not common for women to be visited after they give birth at a private or public hospital. So every time we visit women, they feel honored by our time to come to see them. With the postpartum visit, it’s an opportunity to see how the mother is doing with her new baby, a very vulnerable season. They share, we listen, we share, they listen.
Maternal mortality can be caused by issues that occur during postpartum. When women are neglected during this period, issues such as infections, retained placentas, breastfeeding complications, infant growth, postpartum depression, and other postpartum complications can easily go untreated, and affect the entire family. It is our hope that through our visits, the women are given the attention they need to experience health and work to nurture the new life they have brought into the world.
(1) "Maternal Mortality." World Health Organization. Accessed July 16, 2018. http://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/maternal-mortality.