Stories of Change


Safer Births: Nayna''s Healthy Pregnancy

Thirty year old Nayna, a migrant from Karnataka, is beaming with joy. She is due to deliver her fifth child in a month's time. She lives with her extended family in a one room tenement in Dharavi slum in Mumbai, India. Unlike her previous pregnancies, this one is healthy and well monitored thanks to the timely guidance of Surekha, a community health volunteer at the local health post. Working with the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai and NGO's SNEHA and Women and Children First, UK Aid from the Department for International Development has helped 2411 pregnant women and 2163 newborn babies access ante and post natal care from 29 health posts, in a slum population of 2,338,969. Community health volunteers support the health posts by regularly visiting the community and supporting pregnant women to have safer deliveries. Community health volunteers like Surekha train local women like Nayna to recognise the danger signs in pregnancy, provide information on where to seek care, encourage women to visit the health post as early as possible for ante natal care, tetanus inoculations, calcium, folic acid and iron supplements. Married at twenty, Nayna fell pregnant within a year. During her first pregnancy she did not have any ante natal care and nearly died from post - partum bleeding at the birth of her baby. Pregnancies two and three were similar and during the fourth she was forced to undergo an abortion because of serious health complications. Because of these experiences doctors advised her against future pregnancies. With no access to family planning and pregnant for the fifth time, Nayna was able to access appropriate care during her pregnancy for the first time - thanks to her community health volunteer Surekha and with support from the UK Department for International Development. Surekha, a community health worker says "I am feeling a sort of confidence from inside. I was working in the community earlier as well but now I can work more effectively with greater inspiration. Successes such as Nayna inspire me to encourage more and more women to seek ante natal care". The impact on Nayna's family and community is clear. Nayna is now aware of the implications of not seeking the right care at right time and she feels fit and well. She is no longer anaemic and has more time to rest, receiving support from her husband and family to take care of her three young children. She also expressed the desire to pass this knowledge to the other women in her area.