Birth With Dignity:
Mothers & Babies of Uganda
The mission of the Birth With Dignity Project is to educate, support, and equip nurses and midwives of Uganda to improve care for patients and families with high risk perinatal needs with the goal of decreasing maternal and neonatal deaths, as well as caring for families with perinatal loss.
As nursing professors, maternal/child health nurses and nurse-midwife, we are burdened by the many maternal deaths and stillbirths that we witnessed in Uganda over the years we have been going there. The maternal mortality rate in 2010 was 430/100,000 births in Uganda compared with 9.1/100,000 in the USA. We are also burdened by the lack of perinatal bereavement care that families receive. Uganda has the 10th highest rate of stillbirth in the world with 40,000 stillbirths occurring annually. The enormity of the conditions surrounding birth and death became real for us as we witnessed mothers dying in childbirth due to blood loss, lack of resources to evaluate and assist with hemorrhage and inadequate care. We were just as burdened by the inability for a mother and family to hold their stillborn baby or have time to interact with their baby as “seeing and holding” a deceased baby is not the standard in the country.
In February 2017 we educated 350 nursing and midwifery students and nurses in five different areas of Uganda. Many of the nurses told us that a lack of knowledge prevented nurses from giving good high risk perinatal care. One group of nurse leaders from a regional hospital requested to continue to work with us to develop a program at their hospital that focuses on both high risk care of moms and babies, as well as bereavement care for grieving families. Since our return to the USA we have been providing ongoing education, assisting with the creation of educational resources, tools, documentation and support, as well as sending supplies to this nursing team. It is their hope and dream to not only improve the care in their healthcare facility, but to bring this teaching and improved care to rural and other regions of Uganda.
Sue Steen & Lynn Zdechilk
T The dedicated Mbale nursing staff in Uganda.