February 2021

During the month of February we admitted 6 infants (5 orphans, and 1 baby without breast milk). Nurses visited 155 infants and distributed 550 tins of formula. We currently have 237 babies and 22 women in our care.

Baby Admission Stories.

(1) Twenty-year-old Alice’s first pregnancy ended in a normal delivery on September 25th.  Her small healthy girl went home with her two days after the birth.  Alice has flat nipples and her 5lb baby could not open her mouth wide enough to latch well.  Alice was determined to breastfeed, but the improper latch created pain.  Over the first week the pain worsened, sores developed on her nipples, the sores opened and bled with each feed.  Still, Alice knew there was no alternative to breastfeeding; her family could not afford to sustain a baby on formula; her daughter’s survival depended on her milk, so she continued.  Nursing did not go well.  Alice’s baby lost weight, neither she nor her daughter could adequately extract the milk from her breasts.  Her breasts swelled and hardened, they were exquisitely tender and she developed a fever.  Infections in the milk ducts grew into abscesses, which eventually ruptured through the skin of her breasts.  She returned to the hospital where midwives cleaned the wounds and taught her to hand express her milk, but the pain did not improve. 

Alice did not sleep. Her baby cried constantly from hunger. The unremitting pain and sight of bleeding breasts caused physical and emotional trauma. Her family continued to seek support.  As time went on Alice’s milk dried up and she became increasingly despondent.  In early February Alice was admitted to a psychiatric ward and her baby was taken by a family member to the hospital.  The nurse who met them in the hospital directed the relative to seek support with Joyful Motherhood.  JM nurses enrolled the baby and began instructing the relative in how to prepare and provide formula. Slowly, as her body healed, Alice’s mind also began to improve.  Quality postpartum care is necessary for all women. It is not often than we recognize the link between nursing care, lactation support, and accessibility of formula to maternal well-being and infant survival.  But, these elements should be included in discussions of maternal and infant health. Sometimes seemingly simple issues have life changing consequences.  

(2) Lolita lived in a community just outside Malawi’s capital city.  She was 21 and healthy.  On February 18th she started feeling contractions and her family took her to the closest health center.  Midwives there checked her cervix and told her she was still in early labor, they instructed her to return home and come back once the contractions were stronger.  Lolita continued to contract through the night.  The contractions continued the following day, but she feared the nurses would again turn her away, so rather than return to the health center, she went to a prayer service with her family.  Much to everyone’s surprise her baby girl was born during the service.  Those around her immediately began to seek transportation to take her to the health center, but before they were able to move her, Lolita hemorrhaged and died.  Our dear secretary, Trust Kachala, happens to be a neighbor to the family and she was the one who told them to come and seek help from Joyful Motherhood.