When Save the Children asked me to front their Build it for Babies campaign to raise money for mothers and newborn babies in Bangladesh I obviously jumped at the chance.
I visited Bangladesh in January and think I must have left a little piece of my heart with the amazing mothers and children over there who have to battle for everything to survive. I met women with little beautiful kids exactly the same age as mine, yet half the size and gravely ill. It broke my heart to hold their tiny little frames. It struck me what a lottery life was, and how I could have just as easily been born into a very different world. I met families who don't have enough food, they don't have any income and many have no access to medical care whatsoever. Their stories were just completely heartbreaking and made me want to scoop all of the babies up and bring them home with me. I haven't been able to stop thinking of them and now feel more empowered than ever to do what I can to help.
I was shocked to hear that eight out of ten women in Bangladesh give birth in their homes, completely alone with no medical attention whatsoever. I cannot imagine what that must be like. When I gave birth, although uncomplicated, I knew that if there were problems that I was in the safest place I could possibly be, surrounded by people who know exactly what to do if it all went wrong.
Save the Children need to raise £1 million to build seven maternal health clinics in a region where nine out of ten mothers have lost a child either in childbirth or immediately afterwards. These kinds of figures are completely unthinkable in the UK, and should be unthinkable anywhere else in the world.
As a Save the Children Ambassador and having seen first hand the desperate need for medical care for millions of women and children in Bangladesh, I wanted to help bring attention to this appeal. We have amazing health care for mums and babies in the UK so for this campaign, I joined staff at Chelsea and Westminster hospital to see how lifesaving and necessary maternal healthcare is and to understand what millions of women in Bangladesh risk everyday when they give birth alone. As anyone will know, this is a brilliant thing to ask me to do because I absolutely love everything about babies. I got a little carried away and tweeted that my ovaries were hurting, so I think everyone's probably expecting a third Klass baby to be coming along soon. Never say never but I did have to stop being broody and concentrate on the task in hand.
Knowing the rules of the maternity ward, I scraped my hair back and put on some scrubs ready for the day's work ahead. The girls on the ward were showing me the coolest way to wear them - rolled up at the front. I tell you something though, a midwife's job is a busy one and I was very glad to ditch my five inch heels for some nice comfy ballet pumps.
We went straight in to meet the gorgeous and adorable Charlotte who had been born only eight hours before. Her beautiful Mum Camilla didn't look like she could have possibly been going through labour such a short time before. All babies have a check before they're discharged to make sure everything's as it should be. This is when they will see if there are any irregularities and ensure both mum and baby are safe to go home.
After spending time with Charlotte I went straight to meet Camille, a mother who is expecting twins. This was an unbelievable experience. I learnt how to take blood pressure and to feel which way the babies were positioned. There were two little ones wriggling around in there. It was so nice to hear their heartbeats, feel where they were, whether they were in the right position and so reassuring for Camille to know that all was well in her tummy.
Pregnancy in the UK is punctuated with appointments and health checks, baby showers and maternity leave. When you're pregnant in Bangladesh, there are no such luxuries, life has to go on as normal. Some women may walk for six hours just to reach their nearest health facility, if there is one.
It seems so unfair that by an accident of birth, I'm in a country where good medical care is taken for granted and I've given birth to two amazing healthy little ones. Only a plane ride away, and the outcome could have been very different.
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