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A Zambian Mother's Story

Posted on April 03 2015

Due to safety issues, the this woman's name cannot be released. However, her story is amazing and we appreciate so much that she chose to share it with our community.

I'm 27 years old. I completed my high school in 2004. I went to college and I have my degree in business administration, and I've taken some training courses. I don't have a job at the moment. I live in Lusaka, the capital city of Zambia, and I came across The Baby Box Co. on Facebook after doing some research.

Pictures of Lusaka, the capital of Zambia.

I lost my first child, who I gave birth to in August 2013, and I'm expecting a baby right now. In Lusaka, I go to a free hospital where we have the antenatal check-ups. But there are great challenges in the rural areas. According to our tradition, you go back to your parents' home when you are ready to deliver. So when I was very pregnant with my first child, I left Lusaka and had to go to my parents' home in the Copperbelt. It isn't as developed as Lusaka.

The Copperbelt isn't as developed as Lusaka; the sharp fall in international copper prices has led to huge job losses and deepening poverty in the province.

My son was in breech position, and I couldn't get access to an ultrasound. The machines weren't working in the whole town. There were two machines and both were broken. At that time my pregnancy was too advanced, so I couldn't travel. When I went into labor, no one knew what position my baby was in. I went into labor at 1am and the nurses didn't want to check the baby's position because they were afraid of breaking my membrane; they wanted the doctor to be there before that happened.  I was fully dilated and ready, but the nurses couldn't deliver the baby. The doctor came around 9am, so I had been waiting for 8 hours. After I delivered and took the baby home, my baby passed on after some hours. I still don't know what happened to him. 

In Zambia, 591 maternal deaths occur per 100,000 live births while the infant, neonatal and under-five mortality rates are at 70, 34, and 119 per 1,000 live births, respectively. These mortality rates are unacceptably high.

We are not given much information as expectant mothers. We don't know much about our baby. You aren't very much aware of what's going to happen next, and you don't know what to do, especially as a first time mom. So there's definitely an issue of lack of information. You're examined and then you go. When you go to deliver they ask you a bunch of questions you don't know the answer to. It's worse in rural areas. Some clinics are so far away. You can't even go for antenatal appointments. In my mother's village the clinic is too far away so no one goes, except maybe once. My cousin delivered her three babies on her own, without even a midwife or birth attendant. That's why our infant mortality rate is so high. We're not given enough information or access.

A woman waits to go into labor at home, unable to access a clinic.

For my current pregnancy I'm going all out. I'm seeing a doctor all the time. Today I actually went to the hospital and demanded to know information about the baby. Many women just wait, and they don't even know if their baby is going to be okay.  

I think what they're doing, bringing Baby Boxes to Zambia, is amazing and I'm so excited about this program personally because I have experienced an infant dying. And if there's anything that can be done for anyone to reduce that risk, it should be done. I read about the boxes filled with essentials that are given to pregnant women in Finland. This is an opportunity to reduce how many infants die. If there's any way to give information to mothers in a rural area, it's just amazing. I think it will completely change things for women. 

I give kudos to Krishna and One Zambia for thinking about those mothers who don't have information; who just carry a child for 9 months and don't know anything. They don't even know when they are due. It would be great to reach these women and teach them, educate them, give them something that will allow them to care for their babies. You need tools to look after your baby. You can't just look after your baby with nothing. If they're given the box, little essentials, etc., it's just amazing. Some mothers have nothing. The women and child sleep in the same bed for years. 

One Zambia and their Baby Box program will make a great difference. I can't even explain the magnitude of how much it will help these moms. Just seeing it in my mind moves my heart. It's going to help them so much. It's an amazing initiative. It's going to do so much and change a lot. The challenge is not only giving birth without a birth attendant, but also not having sufficient support during the pregnancy. 

The One Zambia Baby Box program will certainly serve as a tool to improve conditions. I'll be so happy to have the box. I can't wait to have my baby come home and sleep in the box -- knowing it is safe and specifically made for a baby will bring so much peace to my mind and to my heart. There are many things out there that claim to be safe but aren't. The statistics from the Finnish health department are exciting. I'm sure every mother would want to have something like this that could ensure the safety of her child. 

Thank you so much to The Baby Box Co. and One Zambia for what you're doing in Zambia. I can't wait for people to hear about this new thing. It's going to take over here because I'm sure every mother wants something safe for their child. Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to speak and to be heard, especially having gone through the experience of losing my first child. Thank you so much. I appreciate what you do.