I remember the sound of my water breaking when I was pregnant with G. I had been experiencing labor pains all night long and was lying in bed when I heard a distinct popping sound, much like a balloon. I managed to rush to the bathroom to take care of things and alert my husband that we needed to get to the hospital.
As my contractions started to come faster, my husband decided to take a quick shower before we left. Luckily, we lived less than 10 minutes from the hospital, and I had a doctor and several nurses awaiting my arrival.
I delivered G before they even admitted me.
Biz let me get through Thanksgiving dinner (lobster and chicken, my choice) before he decided to arrive. My contractions started after my parents left for Massachusetts, and G was sound asleep. The friends who were supposed to come over and be with G while we were at the hospital were also in Massachusetts with family. The owner of our daycare came over, still dressed in her Thanksgiving best, to stay with G overnight.
When we got to the hospital, I took advantage of the anesthesiologist, who was on his way out the door to be with his family on Thanksgiving night, and started my epidural. The hospital was a ghost town and Biz came, without much fuss, the next morning.
I cannot imagine life without these two amazing boys. I am forever grateful of the fairly easy pregnancies and births I experienced with them.
Sadly, many mothers lose their newborn children every day, some before their babies are even born. Each day, 18,000 children under 5 die, most from preventable causes. While the child mortality rates have gone down significantly since 1990 – from 12.6 million to 6.6 million – the amount of newborns we are losing is staggering.
Save the Children released their Ending Newborn Deaths report today. The report focuses on the 2.2 million newborn babies that die each year before they even have a chance at life – the 1.2 million stillbirths that occur during labor and the 1 million that die on the first day (and only) day of life.
These newborn deaths often happen because of premature birth and complications during birth, such as prolonged labor, pre-eclampsia and infection, much of which could be avoided if quality health experts are present.
Not surprisingly, the poorest countries in the world tend to have the highest mortality rates for newborns, while countries that have experienced recent conflict or are considered “fragile” are among the highest for preventable deaths. Lack of education and rural communities without access to medical services are also factors in higher death rates.
There is hope though. Countries like Cambodia, for example, have seen a 51% reduction in newborn deaths. And a draft of the Every Newborn Action Plan (which you can comment on until February 28th) is in process.
The report calls for political support of its five-point promise:
Save the Children is calling on world leaders, philanthropists and the private sector to meet and commit to the Five Point Newborn Promise in 2014:
- Issue a defining and accountable declaration to end all preventable newborn mortality, saving 2 million newborn lives a year and stopping the 1.2 million stillbirths during labor
- Ensure that by 2025 every birth is attended by trained and equipped health workers who can deliver essential newborn health interventions
- Increase expenditure on health to at least the WHO minimum of US$60 per person
- To pay for the training, equipping and support of health workers, and remove user fees for all maternal, newborn and child health services, including emergency obstetric care
- The private sector, including pharmaceutical companies, should help address unmet needs by developing innovative solutions and increasing availability for the poorest to new and existing products for maternal, newborn and child health.
Each year, 40 million women give birth without trained help. Imagine how many babies we could save if all mothers had access to trained health workers.
I wrote this post as part of the Global Team of 200, a highly specialized group of Mom Bloggers for Social Good members who focus on maternal health, children, hunger, and women and girls. It is part of a 24-hour blog carnival. You can read more newborn health posts on the Global Team of 200 site.