Mobilizing Global Midwives: The Story of Baby Elisha

Editor’s note: This article first appeared in Midwifery Today, Issue 82, Summer 2007. Join Midwifery Today Online Membership Every minute of every day, somewhere around the world, a mother dies from pregnancy or birth-related complications. Each minute, 20 children also die from mostly preventable causes. Over 30% of the childhood deaths―approximately four million babies each year―are newborns in their first 28 days of life. Many of these deaths are easily preventable by educating women about matters such as breastfeeding and nutrition and by the presence of skilled attendants at birth. The 2005 World Health Report published by the World Health Organization (WHO) stated that the 75 countries with the highest mortality rates would need 300,000 more midwives to reduce and prevent maternal and child deaths. I want to share the story of one newborn who, because midwives were available to help him, did not become one of these statistics. In the summer of 2004, my husband and I, along with our one-year-old son, moved to the northern Philippines to help establish a birth center in the rural province of Kalinga. We were serving as missionaries with Mercy In Action, an organization that trains midwives and primary health care workers and establishes birth centers in the Philippines. Women in the Philippines typically have two options for birthing their babies: the hospital, which is often understaffed and overcrowded, or at home, unattended or with a hilot, generally an older woman who has attended many births over the years but has had no formal training. Our center provided free maternity care including prenatal and postpartum care, a nutritious lunch for the moms on prenatal days, and classes on topics ranging from fetal development to birth to breastfeeding. We were available and on call twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, for women… Read more…. Mobilizing Global Midwives: The Story of Baby Elisha

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About Author: Kristen Benoit

Kristen Benoit began her journey to midwifery with Mercy In Action in 1999, and has spent most of the years since working on staff with Mercy In Action in one role or another. Currently, Kristen is the Director of Midwifery Education and Academic Faculty for Mercy In Action College of Midwifery. Kristen holds a Bachelor of Science in Midwifery through dual enrollment (at the time) with Mercy In Action and the National College of Midwifery, a Master of Arts in Intercultural Ministry Leadership, and has recently been accepted to a Doctor of Global Leadership program. She has worked as a homebirth midwife in the US and in Mercy In Action birth centers and clinics in the Philippines and Mexico. All four of her children (two of whom are now grown) were born with Mercy In Action-trained midwives. She currently lives in the US, and she and her husband Matt remain involved in Mercy In Action’s work in the Philippines.

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