Help for moms-to-be

BASIC NEEDS. Community health workers at Sediba Hope Medical Clinic in Pretoria hand out maternity hampers last week as part of the Care Bags
project of the Nurofen Baby 1 000 Days Programme. Picture: Christine Vermooten

Hundreds of poor pregnant women are being educated and cared for in the Pretoria city centre, thanks to a new programme to lower the mortality rates of babies and mothers.

The programme, driven by Nurofen, aims to lower mortality rates by informing and educating mothers before and after child birth. The programme was developed in partnership with the Department of Health and other private partners.

“Some of these women have nothing. They do not know what to do when they go into labour and they do not have any clothes or nappies for the newborns,” Sarika Modi from Nurofen said. Community health workers identify women and direct them to the Sediba Hope Medical Centre where a nurse asesesses their wellbeing.

Vanessa Hechter of Sediba said the programme has been for little over a year and has helped 120 expectant mothers. Sediba is a privately run and funded.

“Our community health workers find these women anywhere – under bridges, in shacks. We have support groups where we discuss nutrition, HIV, post natal care of mother and baby and we teach these mothers how to play with their child. These women are in survival mode. We teach them how to enjoy being a mother and to stimulate their baby,” she said.

The mothers can also join Pilates classes and attend breastfeeding classes.

Community health worker Ellen Mohloka said: “One of the myths we are trying to get rid of is where mothers rub ash on to the baby’s (umbilical) cord. It is painful for the baby because they get an infection.”

Many mothers are completely alone and have no ID’s, as many are foreigners. A week before these mothers give birth they are given a hamper containing nappies, a blanket, a toy and dummies. Airtime to the value of R15 is included in the hamper so that the mother can phone someone when she goes into labour.

Hechter said most women do not register with a hospital before giving birth and when D-Day arrives they get sent from one hospital to the next. “We inform mothers to register so that she has a place to go and the hospitals can also better prepare,” she said.

After the mother has given birth a Sediba health worker visits them within 36 hours to determine mother and baby’s health.

“Almost 20% of the mothers are HIV positive, but because of education not one of their babies have been tested as HIV positive,” Hechter proudly said.

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