Sue bereavement care

Momentum Slowly Building

Friends, family, and supporters of Birth with Dignity,

To say prayers on our behalf while we were in Uganda were answered would be an understatement. During this trip here, we have given two nursing conferences to a total of 45 country leaders and also did additional teaching at OB/GYN rounds, antenatal clinics, other hospitals, and to students, nurses, midwives, and anyone else who would listen.  (:

In our teaching sessions, we talked about ways to act quickly to prevent maternal death during postpartum hemorrhage and preeclampsia/eclampsia. We also spent a long time discussing that seeing and holding a stillbirth is a parent’s right in most of the world, and the evidence that saying hello before saying goodbye overwhelmingly improves the grieving process after loss. We found a couple of healthcare providers that are allowing seeing and holding, but the numbers are still extremely low. Shocked as always, but believing in evidence, there were so many nods of agreement during each teaching opportunity. We have followed up by emailing our presentations and any articles that reinforce the evidence we have shared, and the nursing leaders of this country said they are enthusiastic concerning the changes needed to improve high-risk perinatal care.

Post conference discussion 2022.04.18
Post conference discussion

One of the conference highlights was our guest speakers, Moses and Treasure (I shared their story in a blog post last June: Treasure’s Story). They told their story of their beloved stillborn son, Mwezi, to the conference attendees and discussed how their lives were impacted by the excellent, but uncommon, bereavement care they received. Not all of their story was positive, but having the nurse leaders of Uganda hear about their ability to see, hold, dress, and take pictures with Mwezi impacted everyone more than Sue and myself talking the rest of the day. Hearing from “one of their own” was extremely powerful, and Moses and Treasure were eloquent, honest, and gracious. We are hoping to get them to tell their story on radio or TV, as we have been told that they could reach many with these media outlets.

Moses and Treasure
Moses and Treasure

In Ugandan culture, some mothers are looked on as cursed, and husbands can disown their wives after a stillbirth, so we also went to antenatal clinics and praised the fathers who attended the clinic visits with their wives and talked about their “shared baby.” We are also supplying these antenatal clinics and community health centers with posters showing graphics of the symptoms of preeclampsia as well as stillbirth prevention cards. There is so much work to be done to change the stillbirth culture, erase the stigma and improve maternity care, but the momentum is slowly swelling and the changes are very slow but good.

One final priority for us on our trip was visiting our Birth with Dignity team in Mbale, adding to the team numbers, and identifying leaders/mentors in each of the maternity areas. We were also able to resupply them with blankets for loss, neonatal-ward knitted hats, privacy screens, and an additional instant camera and film for pictures of stillbirth babies if the parents desire a photo.

Mbale Birth With Dignity Team
Mbale Birth With Dignity Team

I could say it every time, and it would not be enough to thank you all for your love and support. We also feel it with the prayers on our behalf and for our Ugandan friends. Our work will be done when 6000 mothers do not die here every year in childbirth and when stillbirth care includes parents being free to see and hold their stillbirth baby if they desire to.

Asking God to bless you as you have blessed us,

Sue and Lynn

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