Save the Children follows the unique journeys of several pregnant women in Sierra Leone
3 months ago we featured 7 pregnant mothers from the slum, Kroo Bay, in Sierra Leone, where I work for Save the Children on the website, This is Kroo Bay! This week I visited all the mothers again to see how they were doing.
The original idea with filming 7 pregnant ladies was that we wanted to introduce all those visiting ‘This is Kroo Bay’ website to one woman and her baby. But since we were short of time, we decided to work alongside several and wait for the first to give birth.
So we went ahead and filmed these women who were all in their 9th month of pregnancy and then we waited and waited for someone to give birth… That’s when we realized there is no fool-proof way of knowing how many months pregnant a woman is in a place like Kroo Bay, where the clinic has hardly any equipment and most people are illiterate. In fact, community members insist that people can be pregnant for more than a year before they give birth!
Finally on the 16th of March something happened, 2 of the women Mary and Kadiatu gave birth on the same day. We rushed to the clinic and found Bintu about to wash Kadiatu’s newborn baby girl. The choice was made for us. Now we go and see Kadiatu every so often, checking up on her and the baby. The baby is also called Kadiatu, but is nick-named Kadija. Kadija has been doing very well, but about 3 weeks ago the baby was crying a lot and Kadiatu thought she did not have enough breastmilk, so shestarted feeding her a powdered baby food. In fact Kadija is one of the biggest babies the clinic has seen lately, so there was no reason for Kadiatu to be worried. We advised her to go back to exclusive breastfeeding and when I saw her last week she had. In areas like Kroo Bay where children have so many challenges to their survival in their first few months of life, breastfeeding is strongly encouraged.
Like many Kroo Bay mothers, Kadiatu lost a 3 year old son to malaria a couple of years ago. Sierra Leone has the worst child mortality and maternal mortality rates in the world – one in 4 children die before they reach 5 years old. 1 in 6 mothers dies in child birth – literally like rolling a dice. Seeing Kadiatu so happy with her baby Kadija made me wonder what had happened to the other mothers to be, but knowing the statistics made me worry.
Fortunately, so far all the mothers and babies I have found so far have been fine and healthy. Two have colds, but overall they are doing well, all smiling happy babies. Unfortunately none of the mothers were exclusively breastfeeding. People here have always given their babies water to drink cupping the water in their hands, and that is one of the easiest ways to catch the diarrhoea that is rampant at this time of the year and which kills newborns every year. So we went through the whole exclusive breastfeeding talk again and we can only hope they will try it.
Save the children is working to renovate and enlarge the clinic in Kroo Bay. The new clinic in Kroo Bay will have a big under 5s area with more space and better equipment to treat pregnant ladies and children under the age of 5.
To donate to help this work, and to support the clearing of the river in Kroo Bay, please Click here to donate