Birth waiting homes for women in Sierra Leone

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The birth waiting homes are up and running!

posted August 26, 2013 by Isabel Garcia

Progress

To select the location of birth waiting homes we began by working with the local health authorities to draw up criteria for women to become hosts. Health Poverty Action field officers then held meetings with community members to decide on local women who would become a birth waiting home host. The most important things were that their house must be close to a health facility, with a room to accommodate women and that they would be able and willing to provide support.

Once suitable women were found who volunteered to act as hosts, training was conducted so that they would be able to:

  • Give advice to women on keeping themselves and their family clean.
  • Provide support and encouragement during labour and recognise danger signs.
  • Accompany women to their nearest health facility when labour commences.
  • Give advice on maternal and newborn care after birth.
  • Give advice and support women on breastfeeding and family planning.
  • Ensure the home is clean and the furnishings looked after. 

Some of the women did not speak the national language, Krio, so they separated into groups with trainers who could better communicate with them. Hosts were also provided with picture books for their own reference and to help communicate health messages with women they accommodate.

All birth waiting homes are now up and running and furniture has been purchased to provide each home with a bed, table and chairs as well as linen and items for washing and cooking. Replacements will be provided when needed.

They have already proven popular - so popular in fact that some women started using them before all the new furniture was even in place! So far women are travelling from up to 10 miles away and staying an average of 3 \\u00bd days at a time. We expect the number using the homes to increase significantly over the next few months as word gets around. To help this we have also been training local women as ‘Maternal Health Promoters’ to encourage pregnant women to use health facilities and birth waiting homes.

Budget
 

Line Items Projected budget Amount spent so far
Supplies and equipment for 27 birth waiting homes

Training for27 hosts

Training materials

Support payments for hosts

Total

$2,916

$1,327

$179

$858

$5,280

$2,356

$1,327

$179

$215

$4,077


 

  • Health
  • Maternal health
  • Reproductive rights

Accommodation and care for women about to give birth in rural Sierra Leone will save many lives.

Why we care: Mothers in labor face the daunting prospect of traveling long distances over difficult terrain.

How we're solving this: Community-based referral centers provide welcome and supportive birth waiting homes for mothers to be.

Sierra Leone is a dangerous place for a mother-to-be. The number of women dying due to complications in childbirth is among the highest on the planet. What should be a time of hope and joy is all too often a time of worry and, sometimes, tragedy.

Northern Bombali is one of the most remote areas of Sierra Leone. Here nearly a third of women find themselves over five miles from the nearest health facility. 
 
The daunting prospect of traveling these long distances, over difficult terrain, while in the late stages of pregnancy, means many are unable to make the journey. If they do manage to reach them, they find health centres that are small and unable to allow women to stay for very long. This means that the majority of rural women, with nowhere nearby to stay, do not travel to health facilities and instead give birth in unsafe conditions, putting both the mother and child at risk.
 
With your support, we will establish 27 birth waiting homes close to health centres across the region. These will provide welcoming and supportive environments for pregnant women to stay at, and where they can then be referred to nearby health facilities. This will enable women who live furthest from health facilities to get the care and attention that they may otherwise have not been able to receive. 
 
Suitable homes will be identified by local communities and rooms supplied with beds, linen, tables, washing equipment and clean clothes. A woman in each home will be trained as a ‘host’ to provide supportive care to women and to identify common signs of danger during pregnancy. Hosts will work together with local women and health workers to form a community-based referral network between the community, waiting homes and health centres.  
 
This is an effective community-based way to ensure more pregnant women in rural areas are able to access essential health services at such a vital time.
 
Please support this project and help ensure that around 650 women from the remotest parts of Sierra Leone are able to give birth safely in the coming year.
 
Budget breakdown:
  • Supplies and equipment for 27 birth waiting homes includes beds, table, linen, buckets, cups and washing items
  • Training for 27 hosts includes transport, refreshments and  accommodation
  • Training materials includes flipcharts, marker pens, manuals and certificates
     

 

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