Saving Lives: Providing Respectful Postnatal Care to Mothers and Newborns in Haiti


Photo: Midwives for Haiti

This blog was originally published by Midwives for Haiti. Written by Summer Aronson.

Women need skilled care before, during, and after delivery. In developing countries like Haiti, postnatal care programs are often the weakest of all reproductive and child health programs. Lack of postnatal care contributes up to half of all preventable maternal and newborn deaths.

Hospital Ste. Therese is the public referral hospital in the Central Plateau. About two hundred women give birth here every month and in 2013, only 1% received postnatal care. Without the resources or funding to provide this care, many mothers and newborns died needlessly.

In July 2014, in partnership with Hospital Ste. Therese, Midwives for Haiti launched the Postnatal Care Program. Two skilled birth attendants were selected and thoroughly trained, patient sheets were drafted, and logbooks were created. From the first day, data was collected.

Six days a week, the midwives work from 8am-4pm. They see as many patients as they can in the hospital and at an out-patient clinic two days a week.

Within three months, these two midwives have provided care to 894 women and infants, increasing access to postnatal care at the hospital from 1% to 65%.

If you ask Juslene or Illa, the Postnatal Care Team, they will tell you countless stories of women who narrowly avoided dying from preeclampsia or who were kept several days longer in the hospital because of anemia or an infection. They will tell you how much time they spend with mothers to dispel the cultural belief that mothers cannot nurse well in the first few days after delivery. They make sure mothers are educated about the benefits of colostrum for their newborn babies, and how important it is to nurse frequently. They will tell you about the newborns they have referred for special care or treated for infection. They will tell you how many mothers come back before their one-week follow-up appointment because they now know that a high temperature of their baby or themselves is a danger sign.

They will not only tell you these stories with pride but will also show you. Follow them on their rounds and they will introduce you to the woman who they discovered hemorrhaging alone on her bed hours after she delivered. They will show you the mom and baby who are finally nursing well. They will show you the free prescriptions they are writing for vitamins and pain medication. They will show you the logbook, 63 pages long, filled top to bottom with the patients they have seen in the past few months.

The success of Postnatal Care Program has deepened our conviction and inspired us so greatly that we have dedicated a fundraising campaign to expand it. We want all mothers and newborns at Hospital Ste. Therese to receive postnatal care. We are determined to end preventable maternal and infant deaths in Haiti. And we appreciate your support.


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