In July 5 babies were enrolled into our program (3 orphaned infants, 1 baby with a mother in ICU, and 1 baby whose mother was not producing breast milk). One woman with severe anemia was enrolled in our mother care program. Malawian nurses visited 216 woman and infants in their homes. 614 tins of formula were distributed. In partnership with Joyful Motherhood, AMHI is currently supporting the care of 234 women and infants.
Baby Admission Story. Lyness and her family did not have much, but they had enough to get through each day. They rented a basic home in a community on the outskirts of Lilongwe. The house lacked indoor plumbing, but the water spigot and a pit latrine sat steps from their door. The house was also close to a clinic and an outdoor market. Lyness took pride in keeping the home tidy and the dirt yard swept free of footprints. Her husband left each morning to seek different jobs in Lilongwe to support them. When there was not enough money to buy fish or beans, Lyness’ husband would tell her to take another serving of nsmia (cooked maiz that has been processed to remove husks). The nsima filled her belly, which seemed to grow day by day, and she was easily sated. Lyness felt well. Her baby kicked powerfully from within. She went for her prenatal visits at the recommended intervals and the midwives told her to expect the baby in July. Days filled with caring for her toddler and the home slid quickly into months.
On June 3rd, her contractions started. She arrived at the clinic, progressed quickly, and delivered a premature baby girl, weighing 4.5lbs. With a small baby, the delivery was quick this time. But this time, the placenta was difficult to remove. Even once it was out, Lyness continued to bleed, and the midwives sent her to the regional referral hospital. There clinicians placed an IV, removed the pieces of retained placenta, and stopped the bleeding. She stayed in the hospital until June 12th. At that point, clinicians determined that she was stable and discharged her home with her baby. Lyness managed to breastfeed her baby girl, but she kept waiting to feel better. The exhaustion consumed her, and the cold stayed in her bones. Her head hut. Her chest hurt. Her legs hurt. On June 29th she died at home. She was 22 years young. Midwives in the clinic near their home told her family about Joyful Motherhood.
Many women in Malawi begin labor anemic and malnourished. Most families do not eat three daily meals, and many make up for a lack of food rich in protein, fat and vitamins with extra nsmia. Nsmia is the staple food of Malawi, but has minimal nutritional content. Because many women suffer from chronic anemia, their bodies learn to cope with incredibly low levels of iron. Blood loss occurs with every delivery (typically 250-500ml), and even normal blood loss in a severely anemic woman can push her over the edge and cause cardiac failure.
First, it is likely that Lyness began labor already anemic. The second problem was the delay. Fortunately, Lyness lived close to town and motorized transport to the referral hospital was accessible. (If she had been in a village or outlying health center, she likely would have died along the way.) Even so, if she was bleeding heavily, it is possible that she lost another liter of blood during the transport. Finally, hospitals and blood banks in Malawi, never have sufficient blood products; it is rare for a single individual to receive more than a pint or two regardless of their condition. The little that exists must be shared by all. Lyness likely needed more blood and she was discharged too soon.
The first contact between Joyful Motherhood and clients always follows a tragedy. When matched with an orphan our goal is to ensure the well-being of that child. When matched with a mother after a difficult delivery, our goal is to ensure that she recovers to care for herself and her family. Joyful Motherhood will accompany Lyness’ family through the next chapter, ensuring that they feel supported and that her baby girl thrives. Ensure the future of this work by donating HERE