Real men go to antenatal class

 

We talk about the power of mums a lot at Chasing Zero, but what about the dads?

In much of rural sub-Saharan Africa, pregnancy, birth and childcare are seen as very much the woman’s domain. It would be thought odd in many communities for a husband to go to an antenatal check-up or discuss maternal health. But one study has shown that a father’s involvement in those things reduces the risk of his baby dying or contracting HIV by a huge 40%! That’s why our Mother Buddies talk to both parents, and why we also encourage men to become Father Buddies to the dads in their communities, urging them to step up their involvement as a way of protecting their families. Just recently, we trained three new Father Buddies in Sierra Leone.

While we were doing training across Africa this spring, we met a couple of inspiring fathers that we’d like you to meet…

David, DR CongoDavid

We met David wearing an IMPACT Mother Buddies T-shirt outside the clinic’s maternity room. He had just rushed his pregnant wife to the clinic.

“I was in the field farming when I was called with the news that my wife was not feeling well,” he explained. He was keen to tell us more about why he was there. “A Mother Buddy has been visiting our home teaching us the importance of male involvement during pregnancy; I am proud that I am actively involved in my wife’s pregnancy and I have also started teaching other men to come with their wives for antenatal visits,” he said. We were impressed, and couldn’t help but smile when he added, “My love for my wife increased when we did the medical tests together.”

We left David waiting patiently outside the labour ward to find out how his wife was doing.

Lumbe, NigeriaLumbe and Judith

Lumbe lives with his wife Judith in a remote, traditional village. Mother and Father Buddies offered pregnancy support to both women and their husbands there – but most men stayed away, believing pregnancy and childbirth to be the woman’s responsibility. Lumbe was an exception in that community. He took on board the message being shared: that the pregnancy belongs to both of them and that the father needs to be fully involved, starting with antenatal care. Lumbe was ready and willing to support his wife in every way possible and saw this as part of being a good husband. They came for antenatal testing together, and that’s when they discovered that they were both HIV positive.

Thanks to Lumbe daring to be counter-cultural and going with his wife for tests, we could help both him and Judith to access the ARV medication and advice they needed to protect their own health and help their baby be born free from HIV.

Counter-cultural care

We’re wishing a happy Father’s Day to these excellent dads and the many others like them who are bravely challenging the status quo to keep their families safe.

Pregnancy Twinning is for dads too! Support another family through pregnancy, birth and beyond by twinning a pregnancy today!

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