On babies, and their story

 Tabitha-5More than a year after the start of the pregnancy clinic many newborn babies have entered through our doors. The sweaters and blankets made by the knitting club come in good use, because we had a long winter this year. It is a privilege to be able to make a difference in the lives of parents and child. Every mother has her own story, and a “normal” pregnancy seems a rarity. Special people with a special story, to mention a few here:

Tabitha-35Nene is raped. As an uneducated woman she lived with a brother and his friends. It proved to be a dangerous situation for a single girl. When the family discovered that she was pregnant, she was excluded from the family. Medically and psychologically we stood around her, and we could provide care for free thanks to some designated “social support” donations. Eventually a cousin took her in and she started accepting her pregnancy more and more. Her daughter was born slightly premature weighing only 2 kg. In Senegal maternity care is traditionally given by mothers(-in law), but Nene just had to figure it out by herself. It turns out she breastfeeds the baby only 3 times a day. Fortunately, she learns fast and when she applies the instructions of the nutrition program the baby starts growing well.

Tabitha-70Ndeye Fatou has an extraordinary husband … Or maybe she’s an extraordinary woman … Anyway, her husband is the only one that joins his wife to the program! They have been going through rough times together. A year ago, their baby was stillborn, and with the new pregnancy they are both very worried. Almost every visit something is not right, edema, low amniotic fluid, too little growth. With additional check-ups and research we monitor as well as we can. What a joy when she walks into my office with her beautiful son!!

Sylvie is a well-educated single lady, and since there is no paid leave for her, she continues working as long as she can. But the moment of childbirth is still not coming, and one day she brings me an unexpected visit. She did not feel the baby move that day and she remembered my repeated explanation about alarming signs well. And that’s a good thing! There is little amniotic fluid and the heartbeat of the baby is too low. I tell her to rush to the hospital with a clear note and instructions, and she gives birth to a healthy baby boy the same day!

The experiences Amsatou had with prenatal care are not positive, therefore she decides to come to our clinic for her third visit. She is a married law student and it’s good that she comes! She appears to have had a thyroid disease, which is now also a risk for the baby after birth. I prescribe laboratory tests and enjoin her that the baby must be examined by a pediatrician right after delivery. With this knowledge Amsatou tells the midwife during childbirth to bring the pediatrician. An important intervention and the baby receives proper care. Meanwhile Amsatou is back to the books studying, and she is the first to rent a breast pump at our center.

Aida is a woman from a small village near the border with Guinea. She lost three children at the age of 1 year. Now she is pregnant for the fourth time and her husband sends her to Dakar for care. She has never had prenatal care. A standard blood test shows she is a carrier for sickle cell. When her husband is as well, this might be the reason for the death of her children. With sickle cell disease, you may grow old, but the risk of infection is very high. Additional vaccinations, medications and adequate information and preventive treatments are essential. The baby is born healthy, now it is most important that the parents will seek the extra care as the baby grows older. After an extensive consultation and a prayer we say goodbye, I find it difficult to see mother and child going back to the interiors…

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Familie Kieviet in Senegal