In Meru, we've hired the teams who will be running pregnancy support groups, and we're training social mobilisers to run the sessions. Meet some of the team involved, working for Child.org, local government and for CIFORD, our community partner in Meru:
The team have been very busy planning the session content and creating learning resources to be used at the groups.
These guides have been specially designed for the mums of Meru. Here are a few pages from our session guide, an A3 flip book that the session leaders prop up at the front of the class to show their group and aid discussions, with beautiful illustrations by Team Mum illustrator Emma Mary Douglas:
Our baseline survey
The first thing happening in Meru is an extensive baseline survey. This piece of research will collect information that will help us track the impact the programme is having - for example, we'll find out the level of local knowledge about subjects like breastfeeding and up to date figures on how many women give birth in a safe environment and access services like postnatal care. We'll then repeat this exercise after the programme has been running, so we know for sure what works and how we might improve the programme next time.
The survey has been running for just a couple of days, but already we have collected 170 survey responses. We'll be publishing a full report into the survey results in January, but here are some things the team have noticed so far:
High rates of teenage pregancy: 49% of respondents had their first pregnancy between the ages of 15-19 with a further 6% being aged between 10-14 years. 55% of women we’ve spoken to so far were teens when they had their first pregnancy.
Mums face long journeys to safe delivery facilities: 37% of women have told us that to walk to their nearest facility offering delivery services would take two hours or more. (That's a long way to travel when you're in labour!)
Patriarchal control: 86% of mums we spoke to agreed that a husband should tell a woman how to take care of their child.
...and problems with quality of care when they arrive: 24% of mums weren’t given postnatal care checks before leaving health facilities after delivering. 11% of women were abused (verbally/slapped/punched) by a health worker during their delivery.
A need for information: 53% of mums asked so far don’t know any benefits to breastfeeding. Another key target for the groups is to teach expectant women 7 key danger signs in pregnancy (below). Out of the women we've spoken to so far, only 4.5% have been able to tell us 5 or more danger signs in pregnancy. 36% weren't able to name any at all. This means we can make an huge impact on the knowledge of pregnant women around when they need to seek care from a trained health worker. Our target is that after attending the support groups, women will be able to name at least five out of these seven!
Understanding more about the exact problems faced by mums in Meru before we start running pregnant women's groups helps us to design the programme to overcome those problems. (For example, when we found issues with postnatal care provision when he were running our Baby Box programme in Nairobi, the team worked with the local ministry for health to deliver a training day.)
We look forward to updating you further as the programme moves forward! For more regular updates, follow us on Instagram: instagram.com/childdotorg.
Our pregnancy support groups in Meru are funded by your donations during our Team Mum appeal in 2019, and with matched funding by the UK government.
We want to create even more pregnancy support groups in 2020. If you think Team Mum is awesome, join Team Mum monthly and help us fund more work like this.