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 is the Admissions Director for Mercy in Action College of Midwifery and recently helped them gain MEAC accreditation. In almost 20 years as a student and later staff of Mercy in Action, she earned a CPM; midwifery licenses in New Mexico, Vermont and New Hampshire; a Bachelor of Science in Midwifery; and she is beginning a Masters in Intercultural Leadership in the fall. She is married to Matt Benoit and has four children, all born at home with other Mercy in Action graduates in attendance.

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