Achieving Maternal Empowerment – One Woman’s Inspiring Story

with No Comments

FremoShe walked in, a bright Saturday morning full of anxiety. You could tell this woman was nervous probably out of
emotions and therefore very scared. She had been at the reception where she, fortunately, was warmly received and ushered. This day will always remain faithful to the works, faith, and facilitation that this unmarked centre delivers to women and their families from Kawangware community and to rekindle the spirit and inspiration of normal gentle birth to the many caregivers out there.

At FreMo, for those who seizes the opportunity to be served, well, they find it their obligation with pride to go out and share with family, friends and communities around them. Many pregnant mothers and families have been served, cared for compassionately while others have been recommended, directed and so confidently found their way an example is Lois. Then others come in by accident while others by their own choice. But then, there are those who don’t see the normalcy, the value of the care and the love ever shining in care but within no time, they come to feel the impact on their lives, marriages and child-upbringing in motherhood soon.

Header_FremoFreMo Medical and Birth centre located in the Kawangware slums of Nairobi Kenya’s capital. It faces the busy road along (market and matatus plying) Naivasha Road, Kawangware. If you are visiting for the first time, it would be a struggle to locate for it is no landmark. Other than a signboard that hangs in the front view (FreMo Medical Centre- scripted on it; Maternal, and Medicare services) not much of a spot that will tempt your eyes to drift and guess what lies underneath beyond the front view. Once inside the centre, you find warm staff, warm colors on walls, and beautiful flowers along the pavements and natural birth friendly birth-rooms. What is special about it is the love, the caregiving full of compassion, that supports to women to arrive normal, strong and dignified in birth, summing up better outcomes (to date our statistics is 96% normal birth).

This day in the antenatal room, doing some routine weekly checking, the receptionist interrupted as Sophie (midwife on duty) and me (Administrator), were requested to spare a few minutes to listen to Lois. She sat down agitatedly but she had a reservation for a beautiful smile, perhaps of the last hope she has found it? She introduced herself and proceeded to explain her underlying adventure, “I am a pregnant mother” looking for a place to birth. “I just moved into the neighborhood and I am at crossroads,” Lois remarked. I have been sitting in my small room, thinking what, where and to whom I should consult. You see I am seven months pregnant, can you imagine I don’t know where to safely deliver my baby? It’s stupid, confusing that I am now stranded”. She was eloquent in fluent English. She was well learned, literally informed but yet misinformed of the basic information in pregnancy and birth. You realize that most of the caregivers are in charge, controlling and ahead of the mamas in their own ways when facilitating care. And this evidence tells us that being informed academically doesn’t necessarily translate to an advantageous when making informed decisions while pregnant whether in the developing world or in the west. The more informed she is, the more she finds many different avenues of debate that puts compromise to the basics of a choosing a desirable acceptable birth plan and birthing environment of choice. This mother was looking for a birthing centre that promised and guaranteed safety, dignity and expectations. All of us, caregivers and families crave for safety.

The government tells us to birth safe and arrive alive for mother and baby but less of concern for the dignity, gentleness and normalcy during the birthing process. Additionally, she was looking for dignity. Dignity is not being pampered with sweet smeared love; it’s about the recognition of her rights, privileges and desires. It’s the recognition of her entitlement and that of her baby. We must resist the mentality that if babies are born alive and our maternal mortalities are at the lowest, we should celebrate, period! Many women have died emotionally and their dignity ripped off. They become devoid of love, strength, and power after birth. The same is passed over beyond the postpartum period. Like majority women dreams and hopes, women call for that care that is personalized, they want to participate in the care that lifts and empowers them, granting them autonomy to invite support and the hope to keep these memories forever and pass to their daughters and sons. And many are the times care is maneuvered in a commanding, demanding and domineering manner, with excuses justifying the caregivers’ whys. Lois was explained of the safety that will surround her birthing process, the respect, and love that women are rightfully owed and yes at our centre they receive. Our centre cares and envisage; “A world where each woman; Is nurtured, heard, and valued and has the information, resources, confidence, and support she requires to achieve the best possible pregnancy, birth, And mothering experience. In such a world, her baby would be born with a fair and equal chance at life and love.

The FreMo care tells me someone cared and wanted to best for me, my baby and family. Helps mothers psychologically prepared for the possibility of the best. Helps them believe that she can get more than she bargained. Helps her regain faith in the procreation process. Helps her overcome her worst nightmares for the hope to be the best loving mother thriving in love, support, and empowerment. In such care, she will not only find immortality of motherhood but the faith that the responsibility Mother Nature accorded is rewarding in priceless awards.

Once Lois walked out of the room, she was calm, relaxed and moved. A woman, who had walked in, running from some scary uncertainties, was a woman who had started a pilgrimage towards emancipation. She was faltering when she came but she walked out briskly. She had found some way into her future birth. She had to come in advised by a friend; she had indecisively given a thought and come in. She was without her antenatal booklet and therefore we asked her to come along with a few days later.

fremo mothers dayLois didn’t disappoint the next time. The next appointment was waiting, her return date. She came for the appointed clinics including birth centering circles commonly referred Prenatal Circles. Many of the prenatal care circles visits are attended on a regular around the week. Every other Wednesdays a mother who is free and willing to come is welcomed. Tea and snacks are served. The antenatal visits, mothers are counseled to attend regularly on a monthly basis. The World Health Organization recommends an average of four visits, before birth but research proves, even more, is good and therefore advisable. Should we limit the numbers of visits? Are they tiresome, boring or cumbersome? Fremo mothers are counseled and advised to visit monthly. The routine checkups, examination, and other routine blood tests are carried through seizing the opportunity during the visits. During the antenatal care, she was punctual. She arrived in time and was taken by our skillful loving midwives to the antenatal rooms. She was taken through the last process of prenatal care. She was green in some aspects of prenatal but the personalized focused antenatal care filled the gap and she was the mother in empowerment.

She was counseled, provided with information and helped to understand what was done and why it was necessary. She was listened to carefully and she was the centre of the care. As she shared, the midwife listened intently while taking the notable summary tones. She departed home that day with the knowledge that she was on track to motherhood. She felt cared and was ever thankful.

IMG_7311When Lois called that night, labour was calling. She had gained information a powerful tool during pregnancy. She
knew when to call to be brought in. The focused antenatal care incorporating prenatal circles the foundation. Her baby was now ready to be welcomed to the world, it’s own natural perfect timing. She called at 3.am and a cab was sent to her place a kilometer down the road from the centre. She was brought in, less than 10 minutes. She was taken to the birth room when the doctors, midwives waited with hands off for a gentle facilitation. She was told to breathe, stay positive and listen to her body. In her birth plan, her partner was the support. Unfortunately, he was night working. He had promised to come as soon as possible. He was fortunate to arrive and supported Lois all of the second stages of labour. He massaged her, held sweetly while kissing. Lois recalls, “They allowed my husband into the birth-room, they allowed him to even cut the umbilical cord. I felt emotionally uplifted and was brought into the world of love. The invitation and participation of my husband brought magic into our lives, the bond that will last. We had some issues but after the care, we were pushed closer and the bond that emerged will last for a long time come.

The FreMo care tells me someone cared and wanted to best for me, my baby and family. Helps mothers psychologically prepared for the possibility of the best. Helps them believe that she can get more than she bargained. Helps her regain faith in the procreation process. Helps her overcome her worst nightmares for the hope to be the best loving mother thriving in love, support, and empowerment. In such care, she will not only find immortality of motherhood but the faith that the responsibility Mother Nature accorded is rewarding in priceless awards.

Lois is one of the many women FreMo has empowered maternally by giving them; A voice, informed choice, compassionate care, safe services, privacy and confidentiality, dignity and comfort, companionship support.

I am so humbled I am part of this caring centre.

Moffat Osoro

Co-Founder member FreMo Medical and Birth Centre Nairobi.

Leave a Reply