In Kenya, one in 26 babies die before they reach their first birthday.
But mums are powerful. By creating pregnancy support groups, we can arm mums with the information they need to keep their babies safe. These groups provide the kind of vital information and support that any mum in the UK would have access to through a smartphone app, her local NCT group or on Mumsnet!
These new groups will arm new mums with the health information and support they need to keep themselves, and their babies safe. They are designed to provide practical health information to new mums. Each new mum will be provided with some baby essentials - including a weighing bag to help monitor the health of their baby. They’ll learn about breastfeeding, safe sleeping, what to expect during the birth and when they take the baby home. They will learn the warning signs to look out for - so they will know when to seek medical assistance at every stage of pregnancy and early motherhood.
The groups also provide a support system for young new mums - a place to ask questions and discuss problems in a friendly environment. Any new mum, wherever they live, knows how important this support can be.
Posted on 05th Mar 2019
Empowering young mums like Winfred makes babies safer.
New mums in Winfred's community lack status. This makes it difficult for them to make decisions about their own health or the health of their babies, and means that many young mums don't seek help when they need it.
When Winfred fell pregnant for the first time, she was still at school. She wanted to continue with her studies, but her parents refused and told her she needed to earn money. Winfred says she was afraid to tell her parents about her pregnancy and when she did, “they changed, and there was no more love again.”
Now, Winfred lives with her grandmother and is training to work as a hairdresser, and told us she uses family planning too. She struggles with the stigma she faces as a young mum in her community, she says “I am unhappy when I meet a group of people laughing, I think they are laughing at me.” Feeling rejected from their local community can make young mums isolated and vulnerable, because they have no one to ask for help and support.
Watch Winfred's Team Mum video
Happily, Winfred has recently begun a local training programme, funded by Child.org, where she has met other young mums. Learning with other local mums has given Winfred a new perspective on life. She said “I feel free, I feel like I’m my own person. I am happy. I feel like I’m going somewhere with my life, I feel like I can be something in life.”
By providing support networks to new mums in Winfred’s community, Team Mum’s pregnancy support groups will offer peer support to mums who feel judged and isolated. If you've ever been saved by the support of your female friends, then please do something amazing for young women like Winfred this week. Donate now. Give before 30 April and your donation will be matched by the UK government.
The evidence is stacking up for this approach...
Any scared new mum who has attended an NCT class, been able to ask a question on Mumsnet or simply felt lucky to have strong and supportive mum friends around them will understand the value of the groups we're trying to fund for new mums like Winfred. But there's lots of evidence from the world of international development that supporting mums is the best way forward too.
The blog link below from Melina Gates is a great read to explain why "healthy, economically empowered women are some of development’s best allies."
A large study published in 2013, which you can read below, has been conducted into the impact and cost-effectiveness of women's groups as an intervention to improve maternal and newborn health. The study included a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials in four low-income countries (Bangladesh, India, Malawi, and Nepal) and found that exposure to women's groups was associated with a 20% reduction in neonatal mortality. In studies where at least 30% of pregnant women participated in the groups, there was a 49% reduction in maternal mortality and a 33% reduction in neonatal mortality!
Support groups are promoted by the Baby Friendly Community Initiative and have been tested in Kenya through a pilot, link below.
Where we work
We're currently launching our first Pregnancy Support Group Programme in Meru, funded by our Team Mum campaign and the UK government through UK Aid Match.
Life can be hard for women in Kenya, but it’s particularly tough for those living in rural Meru. In this region, less than 17% of mums are accessing the recommended amount of antenatal care visits. Rates of delivery in hospitals are nearly half of the national average. Rates of postnatal care within 2-3 days of delivery are low at 26%.
There are even more problem factors with the lack of infrastructure in roads and healthcare provision; travel is difficult, meaning a high turnover of health workers, inadequate facilities and erratic supplies.
The status of women in the region is low, with little say in the control of local resources and little personal agency in issues of healthcare seeking. Traditional practices and damaging social gender norms are common. 31% of adolescent girls in Meru have undergone Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), bringing additional risks in delivery. Teenage pregnancy is very common - 42% of pregnancies are to adolescent girls.
There’s another reason Child.org want to launch this programme in Meru - because we’re already working there! Thanks to the support of Soroptimist International Great Britain and Ireland, we’ve been running women’s groups in Meru for a few years now, offering agricultural training and, just recently, mother’s nutritional training. That means we’re equipped and we’ve been building the capacity of CIFORD, our local community partner, to enable them to deliver a complex programme like pregnant women’s groups on this large scale.
How you can help
Every pregnant women's group we launch has been funded thanks to the determined support of Team Mum, a global movement of mums supporting mums.
Find out how you can join Team Mum and help us arm more families with vital support...