NGOs were recognised for the work they do at Mowbray Maternity Hospital during a World Prematurity Day event there on Thursday November 17.
Hospital staff and mothers of premature babies talked about their experiences while representatives from the NGOs spoke about the work they do at the hospital.
Glynne Rosseli, from Bless a Baby, said they became involved at the hospital in 2015. They provide new mothers with a crafted bag filled with baby clothing, toiletries, a blanket, and other items to make them feel loved and valued.
“In 2002, we heard about babies leaving a local hospital without necessities like nappies, clothing or basic toiletries – even to the point of a baby going home in a plastic shopping bag. So a group of women in our congregation (El Shaddai Christian Church) rose to the challenge and we began sewing beautiful nappy bags and filling them with the essentials,” she said.
To date, they have handed out 30 000 bags across the 11 hospitals they support monthly.
Julie Mentor, from Embrace, said it was important that mothers be respected and supported and that their judgement be trusted.
“Mothers need to be elevated. They are the agents of change and we need to focus on creating environments worthy for mothers. Motherhood sits at the crossroads of hope and brokenness. Brokenness in the context of the country and how mothers need to navigate through a broken society and economy but then hope for your baby, for their future and seeing them grow,” she said.
Nicole Grasskop, from Connect Preemie, told how she had contracted meningitis when she was 23 weeks pregnant. Doctors had warned her that the baby might not make it.
“I was put on bedrest and during this time I felt so alone. I was scared, anxious and had so many questions but nowhere to turn to,” she said.
She gave birth at 34 weeks with her baby weighing 1.8kg. The baby was placed on a ventilator immediately as the lungs had not fully developed. It was during this time that the concept for Connect Preemie came about.
“We help moms’ post discharge and walk with them as they transition into parenthood. We want mothers to be able to make informed decisions, especially if their child is in the neonatal intensive care unit,” said Mr Grasskop.
Rochelle Petersen gave birth to her son, Zeke, at Mowbray Maternity Hospital, on Wednesday September 7. He weighed 1.2kg and was immediately placed on oxygen for 23 days as he could not breathe on his own. Ms Petersen said during that time she had felt worried and anxious but thanks to the care given by the hospital staff, she and her son were on the road to recovery.
“There is still a long road ahead. We have been home for two weeks now, but I am thankful to the hospital and the nurses, who I can still call any time of the day,” she said.
Michael Lawrence, former chairman of the Peninsula Hospital Trust, said he had witnessed a number of miracles at Mowbray Maternity Hospital during his time with the trust.
“I’ve cried with mothers, I’ve walked with mothers and stood in awe with mothers when you see the difference a few days can make in the life of a baby. I’m proud to be part of this hospital and it has been an honour to be part of the trust. I salute the hospital, its staff and stakeholders for the work you have done,” she said.