As I was trying to sum up my almost six-year career as a social worker in Grand Rapids, I am taking away a deeper burden for the infants and new moms. I have come to the conclusion that this society deeply cares about the well-being of its kids and mothers. And the State has placed good programs to support their needs. I was listening to NPR a while ago, and it said that one of the indicators of economic development of any nation is actually measured by its infant mortality rate. When the question was posed, I most definitely didn’t think of that. My guesses were more along the lines of higher percent of educated people and industrialization among others.
Then this made me think of one of the programs through the Kent County Health Department- the Mother-Infant Health Program (MIHP) that I had the privilege to learn a great deal from. All my female clients- pregnant or with a child under the age of one were referred to this program. The MIHP program according to my understanding has the following benefits:
- The client has a registered nurse visiting to ensure she is well informed about her new pregnancy status: her health, what to expect during pregnancy, during delivery, and after. The same nurse follows the child and mom up to one year again to ensure the well-being of both.
- The client also is referred to a social worker to ensure client has sufficient health care during her pregnancy. The social worker also will help apply for insurance for the child. He/she will keep a close watch on the mom’s mental and physical health after delivery and refer out, or provide counseling if the social worker finds anything concerning.
I had the privilege to work closely with the clients, the nurses and social workers through this program and have discovered a passion surrounding prenatal health, pregnancy, breast feeding, and lactation.
Despite having such a great program like MIHP, the study I mentioned earlier put the US far behind many economically progressing nations. Of course, the study also pointed out many variables that could have led to this.
What made me more sad were the reasons they were done for: instances that didn’t even require a c-section.
I just got back from my trip to Nepal. Due to this passion- I was particularly aware of women around me that either were new moms or were pregnant. I was intentional in talking to them and asking about their birth experiences. Astoundingly, all the women that I talked to in this village, which is just on the outskirts of Kathmandu making it possible to access hospitals, had surgical deliveries. What made me more sad were the reasons they were done for: instances that didn’t even require a c-section. These ladies were not even given a clear explanation. The procedure was just done for I don’t know what: money, save time, lack of delivery rooms or ???
What they don’t get it is by giving the doctors that power, the doctors have been inappropriately unleashing that power specifically in this area and sadly not to patients’ advantage.
I am not opposed to the use of epidural, but the unnecessary surgical procedure in delivering a baby has to be eliminated through education, empowerment and support. If the women are aware of how their body works, the changes, and how the body is predisposed to a natural birth of a baby, all these imposing c-sections can be drastically reduced. According to my personal study, risks of c-sections are many, and many of these innocent women have no idea what they are. A doctor is sometimes like a god and going by their decision make the patients feel safer. What they don’t get it is by giving the doctors that power, the doctors have been inappropriately unleashing that power specifically in this area and sadly not to patients’ advantage. However, this is not to say that there aren’t doctors that care. My sister-in-law said she had an amazing doctor who cared and encouraged vaginal delivery despite her wanting a c-section :). But, these doctors are far too less :(.
I have no idea how a program like the one in Grand Rapids or in the state of Michigan can be applied in the context of Nepal. But, this is a project that can begin with small steps. I am not sure where I am exactly going with all these musings right now. But, if the US could fall way behind in controlling infant mortality, I am pretty sure Nepal is exponentially lower.
I read about all the difficult pregnancies and harrowing deliveries in the mountainous and village regions of Nepal. I read of all the lack of facilities in those regions. Perhaps with some dedicated and trained local doulas and/or midwives these could be reduced. Most educated and trained nurses or doctors would rather be in the city. As I brainstorm, pray, and think about a project like this, maybe I am not all alone. Maybe some like-minded people will come along side and make this a reality.