Both are personal experiences. Both written by mamas. One living in Laos, one from Laos. Both women are very aware of the high rates of infant mortality in Laos. Both are very supportive of our work to make birth safer.
First, CleanBirth.org volunteer liaison in Laos, Dee Warren Harlow, wrote this amazing piece about her experience in Salavan province, where we work. Here’s an excerpt:
For me to know the long and difficult road that these two mothers have taken to give birth safely made the miracle of birth all the more awesome to me. To know that unless they traveled all way to a provincial hospital, they most likely did not get any prenatal check ups, or vitamin supplements, or ultrasounds. Although the standard of care that we consider basic are indeed accessible and cost relatively little because they are subsidized by the government, they are only available in large urban centers. This means that the 70% of the Lao population who live in rural areas either require a lot of resources to receive this care, or get none at all.
The second article by the fabulous Theek aka the Laotian Commotion draws attention to the reality that only 40% of Lao babies are breastfeed exclusively to the appropriate age. Her personal experiences with her own mother bring to life the ingrained beliefs about breastfeeing that persist, even though her mother is living in the US:
My mother tried to convince brand-new postpartum me that my crying newborn was hungry because I wasn’t making enough milk. I would have entirely believed her if I wasn’t so precise in reaching the front door with squirting breast milk from our living room couch. My mom had a bunch of “Lao remedies” at the ready anyway. She would spoon-drop some water into his wailing mouth. She also suggested the most common Lao baby feeding method, regurgitated sticky rice to make him feel full longer. Sticky rice for infants is the Laotian equivalent to what we know as rice cereal in Western culture. The idea is the same as well where the introduction of solid foods will fill out their little bellies.
Thanks to these amazing women for sharing their own experiences and working to make birth and infancy safer in Laos.