One of the most exciting day in any parent’s life is the day we get to bring our baby home. I was ecstatic to bring our two twin babies home, and very scared too about being left on my own to care for them. But it was indeed one of the most exciting days of my life.
On a recent work trip down to Salavan Province in southern Laos, I got to see two beautiful healthy babies on their way home from a district hospital with their parents. I don’t know who was more excited, them or me! To witness that special moment really touched me because of the volunteer work that I’ve been doing with Cleanbirth.org to help expectant mothers and newborn babies get a safe start in life by providing “clean birth kits” to women in rural Laos who would otherwise give birth unattended at home or in the forest using often unsanitary tools that can cause infection leading to death of the mother or child.
For me to know the long and difficult road that these two mothers have taken to give birth safely made the miracle of birth all the more awesome to me. To know that unless they traveled all way to a provincial hospital, they most likely did not get any prenatal check ups, or vitamin supplements, or ultrasounds. Although the standard of care that we consider basic are indeed accessible and cost relatively little because they are subsidized by the government, they are only available in large urban centers. This means that the 70% of the Lao population who live in rural areas either require a lot of resources to receive this care, or get none at all. Many factors contribute to the inaccessibility of the care expectant mothers need including, geographic remoteness, lack of infrastructure and seasonal limitations for travel on rough roads, lack of transport or money to pay, little knowledge of the health requirements of prenatal care or services available, as well as family priorities of working for subsistence living and other household responsibilities, and many others. (more…)