A mother’s precious ‘preemie’ saved

Many Tanzanian hospitals have inadequate resources, staff and training to provide the care needed for maternity care. Infants often die because they struggle to keep warm and don’t have the resilience to fight infection and thrive. Project J788N ‘Kangaroo Mother Care’ trains health care workers and new and expectant mothers in a working model of newborn baby care. It is saving many tiny lives. Read one mother’s story…

“My name is Sikudhani, I am 32 years old. I have four children, all born premature. The doctors said my womb could not carry a baby full-term. The first three were all kept in incubators—this was always a hard time for me. It was very traumatic. The intensive care room was a long way away room and I was never allowed to get close to them when I went to visit. It was heartbreaking.

It sometimes happens that you find your baby was not been placed in an incubator because there weren’t enough. Some privileged babies were kept looked after first and fed well compared with others. The privileged mothers were always allowed close to their babies. I was poor, so I was not. It was painful because you could see some babies dying only because it was ‘survival of the fittest’ in the incubator room. Babies from wealthier families had a higher chance of survival.

One day I heard that a baby died in the incubator because the nurse forgot to check the water, so the baby was burnt. Someone else said it died because there was an electricity ‘short’. I was so fearful that the same thing would happen to my baby. Actually, I did not plan for this baby. Because I experienced such a terrible time with my first three, I didn’t want to go down that road again. Four years had passed since my last baby and I had been using a birth control patch, but I still managed to get pregnant.

Despite the fact that I did not plan for her, it turns out she was the luckiest one—a beautiful baby girl, but only 1 kg, unhealthy and weak. Doctors said she did not get sufficient nutrients in my womb and that the placenta may have been affected by the birth control patch I had been using. But this time things were different.

A few hours after delivery I was moved to a new ward, with ‘Kangaroo Mother Care’. I had no idea what it was—it had been a long time since I was in a maternity ward. I found lots of other mothers with premature babies, but it seemed like it wasn’t such a big deal to them at all. They were busy and happy, acting like there was nothing wrong with their babies. I realised things had changed. I could sense the difference.  All my worries of ‘burnt babies’ in incubators were starting to melt away.

In this new ward the head-nurse taught me how to do ‘kangaroo baby care’ and told me that hopefully in around 10 days my baby will be ready to go home. No incubators, no privileged babies, no burnt babies! By keeping my baby close to me to regulate temperature and feed, I can increase my baby’s chance of surviving. I wished it was always this way! I did my ‘kangaroo method’ and made friends with other mothers. Each day my baby was gaining weight. Being able to feed her well and keep her close to me was the best feeling ever! On day 14 my baby was 1,580 grams. We were both well enough to go home!

Maternity life has never been this easy. I cannot stop thinking about the wonderful people who brought this method of care to us in Tanzania. This is such a blessing. Having a pre-term baby is not scary anymore. Thank you so much.”

During the last three months, project J788N ‘Kangaroo Mother Care’ has seen 156 babies reach their target weights and graduate, 341 women participated in the program’s classes and 268 healthcare workers attended Kangaroo Mother Care training.

To help save more babies’ lives, please press: Donate to J788N