Tuesday 4 March 2014

A modern day disgrace

Day 2 in hospital. The day I feel in love with JJ

Just over ten years ago I gave birth to my son JJ and it wasn't at all the kind of birth I wanted. I had a birth plan written and I envisioned my first baby to be born in water with soft music playing, there would be minimal intervention as I believed my body was built for this and I would be able to do the most natural thing without too much fuss. My husband and Mum would be with me and I would have instant skin to skin contact to breastfeed and bond with my new baby.

The reality was a bit different. I was admitted for an unwanted induction because I had pre-eclampsia. The staff changed shifts and forgot about me for hours, at 11pm I finally begged for a bed as I was tired and they admitted they did not know I was there. The next day I ended up being given my second pessary and no-one linking me up to the monitor, by the time they did and came back to check it, I was in labour and JJ was having serious heart de-accelerations. Within minutes the consultant was called and I was rushed to theatre for a section, after a number of failed spinal blocks and epidurals I recall the surgeon shouting, 'just get her under we need this baby out now'. I ended up with a crash section under general anaesthetic and waking a few hours later and not believing JJ was mine, I just kept sobbing 'but I didn't give birth'. During the time I was in hospital I got no sleep in four whole days and sobbed an awful lot. The midwives were far too busy and I had to wait numerous times when I was in need.

I'll be honest and say it took me quite some time to get over this birth experience. I was traumatised for a while afterwards and felt sad and let down. I would happily tell anyone who listened how rubbish my birth experience was and that I was unlucky.

I look back on that birth today and think what a crock of s**t, I wasn't unlucky I was extremely lucky and blessed to end up with a child who is now ten and a giant and very healthy. Why was I lucky?

I was lucky as I live in the UK and have access to superb medical care and a dedicated midwifery team. Every part of the birth process that I felt sad and let down with was actually a luxury to many millions of people living on our earth.
  • I was lucky to have a pre-natal check-up with my community midwife just before my due day so they could discover my pre-eclampsia
  • I was lucky there was a bed in a clean hospital that could take me, with a team of midwives to care for me
  • I was lucky there was a skilled surgeon and anaesthetist available to allow me to have instant surgery
  • I was lucky I was able to stay in hospital for 4 days after the birth to heal
  • I was lucky that the midwives showed me how to breastfeed and persevered with me when I found it difficult
  • I was lucky the midwifery care continued once I was home and they were able to spot my c-section wound was infected
Amazing what a change of perspective does to the same situation! I WAS LUCKY!

In October 2012 I travelled to Ethiopia with the ONE campaign and I met many midwives and health professionals out there and we travelled to see a midwifery centre and it was wonderful. Primitive and basic but saving so many lives, of both mothers and babies. The sad truth is that in countries like Ethiopia this centre is just a drop in the ocean. Women across the world should have access to the kind of care I did. They should be able to expect to have a midwife help them and a hospital bed if they need it.

As the title of my post says, it is a modern day disgrace that 1 million babies a year are not making it to their second day of life. Then scarier still is the fact that 2.9 million babes a year won't reach their second month of life.

This isn't right is it?  Not by anybody's standards. We cannot just turn out backs on this and do nothing. Otherwise we become the modern day disgrace. We are the generation fighting for a better world, for an end to poverty, for access to good health care for all, for a fairer spread of wealth and for every person to be treated equally and with dignity.

Save the Children have launched a new campaign this month - #Firstday - campaign to end newborn deaths and we would love you to take notice and join in. I've said it before, when we all take small steps together the leap can be massive.

What can you do to help?

If you’ve got one minute:
*  Sign the STC petition to ask David Cameron to put a global plan into action in 2014 that will ensure every baby is born with the life-saving help of a trained and equipped midwife and use his influence to get world leaders to do the same.
*  Text a donation: a donation of £3, the price of a cup of coffee, could save 10 newborn lives by buying 10 tubes of antiseptic cream. Text COFFEE to 70090

Then please once you have done either/ both of those things share the link with your friends/ colleagues/ acquaintances via FaceBoook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google +, email, by word of mouth, in your church service - however suits you. Just please talk about it.

If you’ve got 10 minutes or more:
*  Write about the campaign online and why it’s so important that the world acts this year to save newborn lives - If you are a blogger join the 100 word challenge blog linky (Check out Chris' blog for more info)

And remember when you tweet out your posts please mention @savechildrenuk and #firstday so they can spot them and retweet!

Please I'm asking you sincerely, get involved. Do whatever it is that you can do, one tweet, mention it to a friend, sign the petition....... it really all does help.

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