It had been a while since I had cradled a newborn in my arms, and as I held a friend’s new baby the other day I felt the world fall away. I just sat in awe staring at his sweet face and marveling at the tiny hand wrapped around my finger. I remembered holding each of my newborn babies and getting lost in their innocence. There is nothing so precious or miraculous in my mind than a new baby. It reminded me of how different life is in those early days, as a mother, your focus is just so intent on sustaining the new life that you somehow wondrously brought into this world. I was able to be so child-centric at that time in our lives, virtually unaware of the outside universe. Now with older children venturing out each day, it is impossible not to look outward from our home, at the world my kids are growing up in.
It is a world where not all mothers get to see their newborn thrive and grow. There is another moment I clearly remember from each of my birthing experiences, and that is the moment right before the baby came, an acute clear panic that something might go wrong, an awareness that one, or two of our lives were at stake. Then, luckily, thankfully, the relief when we both made it through, our baby took its first breath, and was placed in my arms. It is that neonatal period of the first 28 days of life when a baby is most vulnerable. Because of this fact there are many cultures in the world where babies are not even given a name , in some cases they can remain nameless for up to two months after they are born. It does not need to be that way, and in this day and age should not be. Many mothers could be spared the loss of their newborn with simple precautions and shared knowledge that should be commonly available. We have the resources to ensure that newborn babies do not die unnecessarily, and we need to strive to get awareness and access to all women giving birth.
Saving Newborn Lives is the goal of The Gates Foundation’s Director of Family Health, Dr. Gary Darmstadt, and for 28 days until April 15th, a period that represents the critical neonatal period in a newborn life, he is inspiring an ongoing conversation regarding newborn health to help generate action to prevent the unnecessary loss of newborn lives. The Global Team of 200 has joined up with him for the 28 days leading up to the Global Newborn Health Conference that will be held between April 15 – 18 in South Africa, to engage in conversations and spread the word about global newborn health through social media.
As countries make their final push toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals and beyond, progress in reducing neonatal mortality is essential to meeting the child survival MDG. While progress has been made in addressing childhood illnesses, newborn deaths now account for 43 percent of deaths of children under age 5. Globally, nearly 3 million newborns die each year and 2.6 million babies are stillborn. Four out of five newborn deaths result from three preventable and treatable conditions: prematurity, intrapartum-related complications (“birth asphyxia”) and infections. USAID’s flagship Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program (MCHIP), Save the Children’s Saving Newborn Lives (SNL) program, supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO), with additional support from John Snow, Inc., the Laerdal Foundation, and Jhpiego, will host a four-day conference focused on accelerating the scale-up of high-impact interventions that address these three major causes of newborn mortality. – Global Newborn Health Conference
Dr. Gary Darmstadt is tweeting “Did You Know” facts about newborn health leading up to the conference, and you can join us in the conversation too at #newborn2013.
I wrote this post as part of The Global Team of 200, a highly specialized group of members of Mom Bloggers for Social Good that concentrates on issues involving women and girls, children, world hunger and maternal health.
Our Motto: Individually we are all powerful. Together we can change the world. We believe in the power of collective action to help others and believe in ourselves to make this world a better place for our children and the world’s children.
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