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The Gift of a Trusted Companion in Labor

The power of ONE to transform maternal health care. When a woman has access to a trusted companion, her childbirth experience and maternal health outcomes improve. A recent article from the World Health Organization (WHO) strongly reiterated the need for women to have a chosen companion during labor and childbirth, even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Midwives: a trusted companion

Midwives are trusted companions of expectant mothers, performing a dual role to provide emotional and medical support. They are essential to creating a positive pregnancy experience. Dr Ozge Tuncap, a WHO scientist stated, “A woman’s experience of childbirth is as important as her clinical care.” A midwife's companionship improves the physiological process of labor and perinatal outcomes, including more positive health indicators of new mothers and their babies within five minutes of birth.

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For too many women, COVID-19 has exacerbated the inaccessibility of maternal care. Travel restrictions have further limited access to maternal health services. This translates into an increased likelihood of obstetric fistula injuries and, sadly, maternal deaths. In the ‘new normal’ of COVID-19 the WHO “strongly recommends that the emotional, practical and health benefits of having a chosen labor companion are respected and accommodated. The pandemic must not disrupt every woman’s right
to high quality, respectful maternity care.”

Amidst the challenges of COVID-19, Hamlin Midwives continue to deliver care and compassion to ensure there is no spike in obstetric fistula cases in the communities they work in. Just ONE Hamlin Midwife can prevent countless fistulas and transform the maternal experiences for Ethiopian women.

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A cornerstone of the community and the fight to end fistula

Hamlin Midwives are the cornerstone of Dr Catherine Hamlin’s vision, to ensure women in rural Ethiopia have access to quality maternal care. When a Hamlin Midwife arrives in communities, she becomes a trusted companion and builds a support network to improve women’s maternal health. She can single-handedly transform an entire community and empower women.

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Last year, of the 47,681 women that received an initial antenatal care visit at a Hamlin-supported midwifery clinic, over 28,000 attended the final prenatal check-up. Hamlin Midwives also delivered over 30,000 healthy babies - without a single fistula case. These figures highlight the impact on Hamlin Midwives. The trust they are able to harness within their communities is helping to ensure women feel confident to visit health clinics during their pregnancy, thus preventing fistula.

Each year, thanks to generous supporters, a new batch of Hamlin Midwives graduate from the Hamlin College of Midwives, returning to their rural communities to provide vital companionship to pregnant women. Hamlin Midwives are particularly well placed to do this as they speak different regional languages.

Click here to learn more about the work of Hamlin Midwives. Your support will create hope and lasting change for women. 

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All rights reserved 2020 Catherine Hamlin Foundation (R) (ABN58159647499)
Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation is fiscally sponsored by KBFUS (EIN582277856) and KBF Canada (RCO769784893RR0001)

Photography credits to Cameron Bloom, Nigel Brennan, Mary F. Calvert, Kate Geraghty, Amber Hooper, Joni Kabana, Johannes Remling and Martha Tadesse.

Patient names and images have been changed to protect the identities of those we help.