In September I shared a post about Shanti Uganda’s Birth Partners Push. The concept was simple – moms with blogs would use their platforms to help create positive change for women in Uganda, through Shanti Uganda.
Based here in the Vancouver area, the Shanti Uganda Society imagines a world where birthing mothers and women living with HIV/AIDS are supported, empowered and able to develop to their full potential. They provide safe woman-centered care and support the well-being of birthing mothers and women living with HIV/AIDS in Uganda. In 2010 they opened their Birth House, which is a solar powered maternity center on one acre of land in the Luwero District of Uganda. The centre is staffed by a team of Ugandan Midwives, a traditional birth attendant and a lab technician. From the Birth House, Shanti Uganda also runs prenatal education classes, a Community Garden Program, a Teen Girls Program and a Women’s Income Generating Group. The latter is a collective of HIV positive women who produce bags and jewellery, which are sold throughout North America.
According to Shanti Uganda, maternal health in Uganda is in need of critical support. 1 in 22 women in rural areas die giving birth, and 18% of new HIV infections occur from mother to child. In contrast, in Canada in 2010, approximately 1 in 13,000 women died in childbirth in 2010. Women in rural Uganda are 590 times more likely to die in childbirth than I was. According to one study, the most common causes of maternal mortality in Uganda were sepsis, hemorrhage and ruptured uterus, while the most common factors contributing to death were lack of blood for transfusion, lack of drugs and intravenous fluids and operating room problems.
Those statistics hit home for me. With my daughter Hannah I went into labour at 34 weeks, and while the birth was mostly uneventful, after Hannah was born I hemorrhaged severely. I ultimately required a D&C to remove a piece of placenta, which hadn’t delivered properly. While I was being prepped for surgery, the anesthesiologist told me I’d lost about half of my blood volume. Keep in mind, I had access to excellent medical care and drugs to reduce my bleeding. Following my surgery, when my hemoglobin had dropped again, I was given a transfusion. Some weeks later we got the pathology results from the placenta that had been sent for testing, and we learned that I had been suffering from an acute amniotic infection. Fortunately, thanks to the antibiotics I received in labour and after, my daughter wasn’t infected, and I recovered well. I’m not so sure the outcome would have been so positive if I’d been giving birth in rural Uganda.
I’m grateful to the other mothers who joined with me to raise their voices on behalf of women in Uganda. Please take the time to read what they wrote:
- Michelle of The Parent Vortex
- Melissa of Mothers of Change
- Kristen of Birthing Beautiful Ideas
- Jennifer of Mom Bloggers for Social Good
- Amy of Anktangle
- Cynthia of The Hippie Housewife
- Lisa of The Sprog
- Lauren of Hobo Mama
- Monika of Aias Dot Ca
- Suzanne of Enchanted Chameleon
If you care about maternal equality, and you’re able to help, I’d also like to encourage you to consider becoming a Shanti Uganda Birth Partner. Your regular donation helps ensure that they have stable funding to do their important work. I’m not being compensated for writing this, I’m doing it because it matters to me. I bet it matters to a lot of you, too.
Now I’d like to turn the tables back on you. What does safe maternity care mean to you? Did you encounter any complications in birth that made you feel glad to have access to quality medical care? Please share!