Stories: Maternal And Child Health

  • Why Most Brazilian Women Get C-Sections

    A newborn lies in an incubator at the Perinatal Clinic in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, after birth via cesarean section. Photo: Felipe Dana/AP When Ivana Borges learned she was pregnant, she told her obstetrician that she wanted a natural birth. Her mother had delivered five children without surgery or medication, and Borges wanted to follow her example. But...

  • Inside a War on Natural Birth: C-Sections as Status Symbol and ‘Choice’ as a Myth

    Adelir Carmen Lemos de Goés just wanted a natural birth. Already a 29-year-old mother of two, she had a trained attendant assisting her; she had a healthy pregnancy. Adelir was perfectly willing to give birth in a hospital; she just prefered to avoid surgery. But the hospital, like so many hospitals here in Brazil and elsewhere, thought...

  • Saving Mothers at Birth

    While maternal mortality has been halved since 1990, low and middle income countries still have a long way to go in order to see improved maternal mortality numbers. Sub-Saharan Africa still ranks highest in maternal mortality. For example, some of the highest maternal death rates are seen in Chad, with 1 in 15 women dying during childbirth and the Democratic Republic of...

  • Gloves Reveal Childbirth Story

    A woman lies on a bed, wrenched in labour as a team of birth attendants hover over her. Some of them apply pressure on her abdomen. Others examine her vagina, sometimes with hands encased in dirty gloves. Through it all, the woman is vulnerable to the immense power that these men and women hold over her. This could be...

  • Portrait of a Woman

    There was a moment in Kajubai’s life when she gave her breath to a newborn baby who had stopped breathing. The baby started breathing again. This is the moment she remembers when she looks back at 18 years of work as a Community Health Worker (CHW) for non-profit organisation SEARCH. Besides giving breath to breath-stopped babies, there are...

  • Imprisoned for Giving Birth

    Here is how Maimuna, 42, knows how many women and babies were detained with her in Pumwani hospital for being unable to pay for maternity care: “When we go to sleep, they count us, in the morning they count us, at lunch they count us.” So they don’t run away, that is. Maimuna (her nickname, at her...

  • Living (HIV) Positively

    Jasinta lives with the knowledge that she has HIV. She was diagnosed in 2009 but kept it a secret, even from her husband. ‘I lived in stigma and denial’, she told me. The stigma of HIV is a big problem here in Kenya. Newly diagnosed patients find that their neighbours and friends turn away from them and their customers...