Since I’ve been pregnant, I’ve started to think some unusual things to myself. I set out on the 10 minute walk to go and see the midwife and think, “Glad I don’t have to walk 15 kilometers in flipflops right now.” I go to antenatal class and think, “Imagine if nobody had told me any of this.” I try to eat a load of meat to get some iron and think, “How do women do this when they barely have enough food to feed themselves?”
I’m not some kind of selfless saint; it’s just that I’ve been involved in the Pregnancy Twinning initiative for a couple of years and I constantly hear stories from Malawi about the difficulties mums there face. No transport to the health clinic. No advice or information. Not enough food. It doesn’t seem fair.
Somebody twinned my pregnancy for me as a congratulatory gift, and it felt great to be supporting one of these resilient women across the world through her pregnancy too.
I think Pregnancy Twinning is a brilliant programme because the idea is so simple and the effect is so big. It’s not like maternal mortality in places like rural Malawi is a complex problem that’s too big for us to solve; there are a few very simple issues that are surprisingly easy to fix.
For instance, the main reason mums in Malawi lose their lives is that they live deep in the countryside, far away from the nearest midwife. There’s no ambulance service, they don’t have a car, and it’s impossible to walk 15km to the hospital while in labour… (It’s not something I would like to attempt anyway!) Problems like this are easy to solve by putting on a transport service for pregnant mums, and by bringing antenatal care and advice to them, where they live. I love the Pregnancy Twinning approach because it all works through trained local mums taking advice and help to other mums in their local villages, passing on their knowledge and keeping an eye on everyone who’s expecting.
It’s not expensive to provide this kind of help – it only costs £1 per week of pregnancy – but the impact it has is huge, with many lives saved and countless stories of safe, healthy deliveries.
One village the programme works in has seen maternal deaths completely eliminated since Pregnancy Twinning began – the tragedies that were once so common just don’t happen any more. I think that’s pretty awesome.
It was so nice to get my Pregnancy Twinning birth certificate in the post the other day, with a smiling picture of the mum I’d supported and her new baby, born safe and well! It prompted me all over again not to take my antenatal care for granted – and I put it up on my shelf as an inspiration for my grumbly third trimester days. I guess I can probably get through pregnancy and birth if my twin has managed to do it in rural Malawi, with a little help from Pregnancy Twinning…