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Amazing documentary tonight on BBC1 at 10.35pm - Four Born Every Second - a kind of global OBEM

(215 Posts)
MmeLindor Mon 19-Nov-12 19:25:23


I saw a preview today and it is both shocking and inspiring.

287,000 women die from pregnancy related causes every year, 99% of them in developing countries.

The film shows the difference between UK and US births and those in Cambodia and Sierra Leone.

It does contain quite distressing scenes of still birth, so maybe not for you if you are currently pregnant.

I blogged about it today (link on profile) to give you an idea what it is about and will be watching again tonight.

FunnysInLaJardin Wed 21-Nov-12 22:47:02

yes Mme far more than a 12 yo boy should have to deal with.

MmeLindor Wed 21-Nov-12 22:35:44

I am guessing that they were still struggling with the abuse and abandonment of the father, and the fact that he had infected the mother with HIV. Poor little boy had a lot to deal with.

FunnysInLaJardin Wed 21-Nov-12 22:22:54

I managed to watch all of it tonight. Stunning programme. And so sad about the poor baby in Cambodia.

The thing that struck me was how sad the Cambodian woman and her family looked. Far different from the others featured.

Medicins Sans Frontier do a fantastic job, and very telling that Sierra Leone is so rich yet it's citizens are living in the dark ages.

Something more must be done to redistribute wealth on a global scale.

olgaoctopus Wed 21-Nov-12 15:19:24

I would imagine the difference between Sweden and the UK is more to do with socio economic factors than medical care per se.

honeytea Wed 21-Nov-12 13:12:32

They are very very good in Sweden about giving scans if the mother is worried, although 1 scan is normal I have had a 12 week scan as I was worried about downs syndrome, also a 32 week scan because I was worried about the size of the baby's head, these are not routine scans but they were very kind and let me have them anyway.

MmeLindor Wed 21-Nov-12 12:58:57

That is an interesting point, Ginny. I haven't seen research on that, but will have a look.

I suspect though that you would have to look beyond maternal health care, eg average age of the mother, support in workplace, maternity leave, general health care when the mother was a child, nutrition etc

Perhaps the Swedes are more used to making decisions themselves, and trusting their instincts, rather than sticking to a prenatal health check chart.

I would also question how they deal with worries of the mother. Can they swiftly access a scan if they have concerns, and how does that compare with UK.

mumwithtwokids Wed 21-Nov-12 12:56:39

FunnysInLaJardin - The program highlighted so many things particular how tough and injust life is for so many mother's in other countries. Not only do they get zero help from the state but they and their children are also denied all aspect of basic healthcare however this problem has always been there. The whole benefits system in this country is a very sore point because it's terribly abused by some, not appreciated by others and those who desperately need help get f**k all - some of the things my husband has had to witness is absolutely disgraceful.

With regards to posts asking where the fathers are - some of these women have children through choice but there are also many who fall pregnant because they have been raped, sometimes this happens repeatedly and also affects children. Just before the world cup there was another documentary which was called 'The Real Johannesburgh' which focused on this problem. It's awful that women have to live this way.

honeytea Wed 21-Nov-12 12:16:14

That's interesting Ginny.

Sweden is actually more diverse in terms of modern immigration than the UK, close to 20% of Swedes were born in a foreign country where as the UK figure is close to 10%. The climate is very harsh here so maybe the survival of the fittest has made the indigenous Swedes hardy people.

The level of poverty is low and the gap between rich and poor is smaller than the UK, maybe that makes a difference.

ginnybag Wed 21-Nov-12 11:56:10

WRT different countries and different rates, has anyone ever factored in genotype?

(This is NOT a post about Race, btw, simply about genetic differential!)

There have been studies done on heart disease, cancer etc etc but not aware of one for pregnancy complications etc.

There are so many factors that it would be a tough one to trial, but hearing that Sweden does less in pregnancy and delivery but has better results than the UK makes me wonder. Sweden is more genotype homogeneous than the UK, and definitely than the US. Is that a part of it? We had lower incidence rates 60 years ago, when communities were smaller and the population less diverse. What about the US? Canada? Australia?

Is there an equivalent '3rd world' country that shows better results, despite similar conditions.

I remember reading something, somewhere, years ago about the 'order' in which newborns were 'hardiest', and caucasian female babies did best.

I ask the question because I'm wondering if, by some bastard twist, the very women and children with the most against them background wise, and the least access to compensating factors are also the ones most likely disposed to issues.

And I ask, because it might be another way to tackle it. Poverty in Africa won't make the headlines, something like this might, if only because some people need it to be relevant in their own back yard before they'll give a damn.

FunnysInLaJardin Wed 21-Nov-12 11:15:01

I tried to watch this on Iplayer last night and after 10 mins was advised 'I didn't have enough band width'. Very frustrating. I will try again tonight as it looked very interesting and illuminating.

I am also rather dissapointed that the discussion on here is not about the global injustices of poverty, but rather that someone in the UK might have <gasp> children and be on benefits. Spectacularly missing the point I would say. Why not reserve your ire for the factors which lead 1 in 8 women to die in childbirth. Now that truly is shocking

PolkadotCircus Wed 21-Nov-12 08:02:00

Mini I disagree the MSf doc said a lot of these women wouldn't be in such a dire situation if they'd had the tests and pre-natal care before hand.

honeytea Wed 21-Nov-12 07:42:01

The idea that lots of tests makes pregnancy safer is not true in Sweden where I live. A woman giving birth in Sweden is around 50% less likely to die in childbirth than a woman giving birth in the Uk, the infant mortality rate in twice as high in the UK.

In Sweden you get one scan at 20 weeks, the midwife listens to the baby's heartbeat at around 25 weeks, they take your blood sugar and blood preasure about once a month. There is little choice when it comes to birth, no water births, no home births. If you hae a high BMI they don't give you consultant care, no gestational diabetes test. Really it is all very very scarily hands off, but it seems to work. I know this is lots more testst than a woman in a developing country would have, but also lots less tests than a British woman would have.

Once the baby is born the "rules" are very relaxed, they suggest co-sleeping but don't tell you how to do it safely, no one even mentions formula feeding. The attitude is that you just need to get on with it.

I wonder if the maternal and infant deaths would be lower if the Swedes tested more like the NHS do.

duchesse Wed 21-Nov-12 00:18:40

33% of the population living to 100 is only scary if those people are in poor health. Since in all likelihood they will be the healthiest generation ever, will be working till they're over 80 (if retirement age is 70 now for people currently aged 30-40, it'll be way more than that by then), they will hardly be a burden in what will their late middle age!

MmeLindor Tue 20-Nov-12 23:57:55

Not 1 in 8 pregnancies, but 1 in 8 women die in childbirth.

So if a woman has 5 or 6 births, often very close gaps between children, she gets weaker and weaker over the years.

The interview I posted earlier with the film-maker, Brian Hill - he said that in Sierra Leone everyone knows someone who has died in childbirth. It is very unusual in western countries, but part of life there.

duchesse Tue 20-Nov-12 23:33:39

mini- of course a great many people responded yes on that thread! You don't generally get people going onto a thread of that nature to say "actually, no, I had easy births and not a hint of risk".

Also I think it's worth considering that medical intervention that doesn't kill the mother and/or baby has been available in the developed world including the UK for three generations, which might conceivably be contributing to retaining certain attributes that might otherwise be lost through "natural selection", in other words maternal and infant mortality.

Quodlibet Tue 20-Nov-12 23:31:18

This is maybe nit-picking but I am confused about the 1 in 8 women statistic.

Does it mean: 1 in 8 births ends in a maternal death

or: 1 in 8 women (who might have already borne 5/6/7 children) will die of a childbirth complication?

(either is horrifically high, obviously, it's just not really clear to me what that statistic really means).

One thing I thought so poignant about that documentary was the woman in Sierra Leone talking about her hope that one of her children would one day travel overseas and lift her out of poverty. It must be so rare that that happens, but those few who do must inspire so many children to be born with that hope attached to them, only to live out another life of extreme poverty and repeat the cycle. Is having children a source of optimism for these women? Is this another reason why encouraging contraception/limiting family size in these places is so difficult?

FlamingoBingo Tue 20-Nov-12 22:46:43

Polka. Sorry I have PMT and no patience, so my initial repsonse to your repky was 'no shit!'

Maybe it wasn't clear in my post, but I am a responsible parent who brings my children up with the right values. They are not spoiled. But children find it very hard to understand why their lives are so priviliged, however much you tell them. They are too young to imagine a life so vastly different to their own, and need sensitive ways to learn about it. By sensitive, I don't mean in a protective way, but in a way that makes sure not to just make them switch off, as happened to me when I heard one too many times 'don't say you're starving! You don't know the meaning of it!' Etc.

My children have parents who volunteer, who give money when we can, and who explain these things to our children. But how much more powerful it is for kids to learn these things themselves than just being spoonfed it by zealous parents?

notnagging Tue 20-Nov-12 22:41:34

The interesting point if this documentary was that the same thing is happening to women all over the world not just 'poorer' countries. It made some important points about wealth distribution. I found it especially interesting that the USA has an increasing level of infant mortality, one if the richest nations in the world.

MmeLindor Tue 20-Nov-12 22:40:45

She would have had to stick to a strict regime when taking the pills, NotNagging, to prevent transmitting HIV to her baby. They would have tested her for HIV when her pregnancy was confirmed, I presume.

MmeLindor Tue 20-Nov-12 22:38:56

Ha. Mini. Don't ever have a baby in Germany, if you think UK is bad.

I had many more tests and scans in Germany that is common here.

notnagging Tue 20-Nov-12 22:38:49

The lady from Cambodia must have been pre tested as she seemed to go in for a scheduled csection? The dr said to her son tell her to take the pills like last time?

MmeLindor Tue 20-Nov-12 22:37:20

I have PMed you. It is valid question. How do we get our kids involved. Like Polka says, a part of it is being a good example. So, we often stop and give donations or put some cash into the hat of homeless people on the street.

But it is also good to get kids thinking about people in other countries. I showed my kids pics of my trip to Kenya, and will be speaking to their school class about it too.

Mini / Polka
It is poverty that kills these women, because if they had money they would pay for decent health care. There are hospitals in Nairobi where our driver said he would never take his wife to, but the poorest in the city have to go there as they have no other choice.

minifingers Tue 20-Nov-12 22:29:28

Polka - the amount of antenatal testing in the UK has gone up massively even in the past 13 years since I had my first child. Was the UK a dangerous place to have a baby 13 years ago?

And it is a lack of basic health care and poverty that is killing these women in massive numbers. Poor nutrition in childhood and pregnancy during early adolescence resulting in contracted pelves, infibulation, malaria, severe anaemia. It's not just the intrinsic danger of birth. If this was the case we would have had large numbers of women in the UK dying in the 1950's when c/s were incredibly low and most women had their babies at home.

The point I'm making is that large numbers of these deaths would be preventable without having to herd all these women into high tech hospitals.

Would also add that when someone did a thread here entitled 'would you have died in childbirth two hundred years ago?' the number of mumsnetters who believed they would have died in childbirth in the past would have suggested a maternal mortality rate among the mainly healthy and wealthy posters on this site of about 3 times that of 20th century Congo...

butterfingerz Tue 20-Nov-12 22:19:10

Its not about 'treasuring' the NHS, the NHS is in dire straits right now... anyone that has used it recently or works for it will know this.

Don't treasure it, fight for it, insist that it is constantly improving.

nannyl Tue 20-Nov-12 22:14:47


you realise that giving birth at home in this country is at least as safe (and on many levels SAFER) than choosing to go to a hospital......?

because you get 2 midwifes.... and if there are problems are transfered by ambulence to hospital? (you dont just lie there and die)

That is why unassisted births are illegal in this country... but a planned homebirth is as safe for low risk mothers.....
many of whom know they are low risk because of the antenatal care they have had....

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