Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Cindy Hunter radio interview re Haiti trip

Cindy Hunter was interviewed this morning on The Wake Up Call with Holloway and Lundun. Robb Holloway conducted the interview and shared that a baby will soon be born to his family. 

Formerly with the PeaceHealth Nurse-Midwifery Birth Center, Cindy is now the Nurse Educator for Labor and Delivery at Sacred Heart. She is also a recent recipient of the Lane County 2010 Healthy Babies Award.

The interview was scheduled in anticipation of Friends of the Birth Center’s fireside chat with Cindy this evening. The chat is scheduled in honor of National Midwifery Week

Thanks Robb Holloway for a local discussion about practices to improve maternal and infant well being in this country, in Haiti and elsewhere. The discussion touched on the idea that in this country/community we are working hard to bring back the low-tech, mother- and baby-focused practices including skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding that can improve our troubling local/national outcomes. In other countries, including Haiti, accessing the technical knowledge and expertise that are plentiful in much of the US is a top priority for improving outcomes.

Here are the highlights….

  • Skin-to-skin contact. Robb asked about the importance of this for mother and babies. It’s a common practice around the world but not so much in this country. As birth moved inside the hospital, mothers and babies were routinely separated. Now, we’re trying to keep them together with skin-to-skin contact for the first hour.
  • Are we behind the world in our childbirth practices? Cindy responded that in many places around the world, Haiti for example, having a skilled birth attendant is not common but rather a luxury. However, US neonatal and maternal mortality rates are not what they should be. (Indeed, Lane County fetal and infant mortality rates are higher than much of the United States and many other nations. Recent coverage.)
  • Haiti. Its maternal and neonatal mortality is the world’s highest. Cindy described that many of the circumstances contributing to poor outcomes (anemia, food insecurity and poverty) are normal for the affected families. She described how heart wrenching it is to witness this. It is not uncommon to find babies in the care of grandmothers and aunts due to a woman dying in childbirth.
  • Parenting. Robb asked about parenting under such extreme circumstances. Cindy described the Haitians with whom she came into contact as extremely resilient. Families are tightly knit and they work together. 
  • Breastfeeding. One of the most striking and important lessons Cindy took from her experience in Haiti was the power of breastfeeding to protect babies from infection and disease. Breastfeeding babes were “fat and happy.” It was when they weaned that they became vulnerable. 

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