It was supposed to be one of the happiest moments in her life, but Phulwati was instead left devastated after her dreams of having a second child came crashing down when she delivered a stillborn baby in the year 2016. Her mishap was a consequence of herself and her family overlooking repeated advice from community health volunteers (CHV) and lane workers on antenatal care (ANC), during the pregnancy that has helped to curb maternal and child mortality rates in developing nations.
“To us going to a health centre was only when one fell sick. Phulwati never showed signs of any ailment when she was pregnant. Therefore, we never went to see a doctor,” says Mohan, Phulwati’s husband, realising little that this belief had proved fatal for his second child. During her pregnancy, Phulwati neither visited a government hospital or the community health centre in her slum, Bhoomi-Heen camp, for antenatal check-ups, leaving herself vulnerable to complications.
However, towards the end of the year when Phulwati, mother to an 11-year-old boy, again got pregnant and was in her second trimester, Asha voluntary health workers came to know about it. Under Asha’s guidance, CHVs made regular home visits and advised Phulwati to come for health check-ups to the Asha Community Centre and this time warning her not to ignore the ANCs. From then on, Phulwati never missed her checkups and kept taking the prescribed supplements. Her weight, pulse and blood pressure were monitored regularly, and she followed a proper diet that helped her maintain an ideal weight during pregnancy. In February 2017, she delivered a healthy baby boy and both are safe.
Asha has subsequently taken care of her child’s immunization, and constantly monitors his growth.