Alliance News Feed – Moms and Babies Are Worth Fighting For

by a midwife serving in an Alliance-affiliated hospital in West Africa

It was a normal, busy but fun day in the clinic until I experienced one of a midwife’s worst nightmares: the inability to find the heartbeat of what should have been a fully developed unborn baby.

The baby’s mom had already admitted she hadn’t felt her child move for about two days. This alerted me that something could be gravely wrong. But you always hold out hope in such situations, especially since that sort of description doesn’t always indicate the worst.

Now, however, I knew there was no hope for this baby. I tried to put on a brave but compassionate face for the woman, explaining she would need to see the doctor. He would look at the baby with an ultrasound.

But I think she already knew—motherly instinct is powerful no matter where you are in the world.

Internal Tears, Anger

She tried to remain as stoic as possible, since this is how her culture would expect her to respond to such tragic news. But I’m sure she was crying on the inside, just as I was.

Internally, I was angry too. This is not supposed to happen to babies who are 37 weeks old. In the United States, I’d delivered many babies born at that same gestation. They were usually fine outside the womb, needing little to no medical intervention after birth.

Had the mother arrived at the hospital sooner, this child likely would have been born alive.

Cultural Undercurrents

But the problems here run far deeper than those that can be largely alleviated through educational interventions (as they are in many societies), including teaching women about the need to inform their OB providers immediately if their unborn babies aren’t moving normally.

A national worker at the hospital holds a proud mom’s (right) newborn twins. (Photo courtesy of the author)

In many ways women in this region are viewed as second-class citizens—possessions even—by a culture steeped in a belief system that many times does not treat them with dignity.

Women here often delay coming to the hospital even when they know something is wrong. Reasons include their husbands’ refusal to give them money for transportation or preventing them from coming in.

Or they have the fatalistic thinking stemming from this country’s majority religion: If anything goes wrong with the baby, “it is God’s will”—something they should accept instead of trying to prevent.

God’s Value System

Knowing how to respond to people in these types of scenarios is difficult. Effectively fighting against the root problems leading to such situations is even harder.

How do we communicate the truth that people are valuable to God and He wants them all to be treated with love, dignity, and respect? How do we convince people that human lives, including those of the unborn, are worth fighting for because of the value God has assigned them?

The answers to these questions lie in what we’re trying to do here besides running a medical service for impoverished people. We are participating with Him in the life-changing, root problem–addressing, soul-saving work of bringing His Kingdom more fully to our part of the world.

We are striving to help His Body grow both in numbers and in spiritual maturity. It is certainly not easy, but it must happen here for people to understand the entirety of His good news—Jesus cares deeply for both our physical and spiritual needs.

Learn More

How to Raise a Pack of ‘Mama Bears’” illustrates how a CAMA Services (a.k.a. Compassion and Mercy Associates) team helped a West African church community see marginalized girls through Jesus’ eyes.

Source: Alliance News Feed – Moms and Babies Are Worth Fighting For

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