Not again, says mother who gave birth by roadside

Mercy with two of her three children at Barwessa in Baringo Sub-County.

Mercy, 32, gave birth to her second-born by the roadside after an elderly woman who had promised to escort her to the hospital delayed.  Her husband was away. She decided to go to the hospital on her own.

“The labour pains came when I was on the way to the hospital and some women helped to give birth,” says Mercy, a farmer in Barwessa, Baringo County.

The women helped her back home.

Because of the unhygienic conditions under which the baby was born, her umbilical cord got infected. “It took a long time to heal even after Mercy visited the hospital.  “I thank God it eventually healed but it was a difficult time for me.” says Mercy, a small-scale farmer in Barwessa, Baringo County.

Mercy gave birth to her lastborn safely in hospital. This time she had planned and was well-prepared, thanks to the help she got from Monica, a community-based health volunteer trained by USAID’s Afya Uzazi Program.

Mercy was six months when Monica visited her home. The volunteer was visiting families to find pregnant women who had missed out on antenatal care so that she could refer them for health services.

Like many women in her village, Mercy was waiting for the 7th or 8th month to go to the clinic. Yet it is recommended that women visit antenatal clinic immediately they realize they are pregnant. Although it was late in the pregnancy, Monica taught Mercy how to remain healthy and prepare for childbirth.

Monica, a community health volunteer, on her home to visit a mother

“Monica gave me a leaflet that showed what pregnant women should do and what to avoid,” says Mercy.

USAID’s Afya Uzazi program developed the information materials as part of a social and behavior change intervention to promote healthy behaviors by pregnant women, mothers of young children and their male partners.

“My husband read the messages and realized I should not be carrying heavy loads. He would fetch water for me or hire someone to do it,” says Mercy.

With support from her husband and the volunteer, Mercy had a healthy pregnancy. She know her due date and had planned for transport. When the time came, she got to hospital in time gave birth to a healthy baby.

“I tell women to always women who are pregnant to follow the advice and plan well for delivery,” says Mercy.

Monica and other volunteers work hand in hand with traditional birth attendants trained to take on a new role of birth companions who escort pregnant women to deliver in hospitals.