Last week we had one of the quarterly Mama Zawadi events that Still A Mum organizes. The Mama Zawadi events started as baby showers for rainbow moms (moms pregnant after a previous baby loss). The August one was our 7th event and I am so happy to have met over 100 pregnant through these forums. You may wonder what exactly happens at these events. There is definitely some eating, photos and cake like every baby shower. But we are not just about fun. No. The bulk of the program is spent teaching the women on healthy pregnancy practices, preparing for labor and delivery, looking after a newborn and postpartum care for the mom. We have partnered with a gynecologist and a midwife who is also a doula and child birth educator. We have a Q&A session after each presentation too. For the last 2 years, similar questions and concerns keep coming up. One such question is “what should a mom-to-be consider when selecting a hospital to deliver in?” When this question came up at this last event, the gynecologist -Dr. Jane Wakahe, a doctor I have seen for over 6 years – mentioned the usual: get a hospital that is clean, whose staff are friendly and mostly a hospital that can handle emergencies. And what does that mean? It means a hospital that has a well-functioning theatre should an emergency C-Section be needed, a nursery for the baby should they need medical support and an ambulance should they need to move you.
Usually this topic ends at this point. But for some reason this time the discussion went into maternity insurance and exactly what they cover. As some women discussed this, they shared how the cover they were on had supported them during ultra sounds and the regular ANC visits. They definitely hoped the delivery process would go well and their cover would cater for their needs. When I got home after the event I just couldn’t shake of that conversation. How often do we diligently pay insurance premiums hoping that when we need it the insurance company will honor their end and pay for the service we need? For most of us, the employer has put us on a group cover with well negotiated benefits. Either way, we hope that when we need them the insurance company will come through in a timely and efficient manner.
In my line of work, I have seen first hand how the unexpected sometimes breaks our heart and shatters our world. From my own experience of losing two babies to my work with Still A Mum for the last 3 years I have seen fast hand that the delivery process can go wrong. Today I want to talk about premature delivery. I was on bed rest for 10 weeks when I was pregnant with my son. My doctor said I was at risk of preterm labor and therefore I was put on medication and strict bed rest. During this time, I met many women who had delivered preemie babies and had to stay in NICU (Newborn ICU) for several weeks. The NICU journey is an extremely tough one. The baby has to be in the incubator throughout and so mom has to express milk which is then fed to the baby. Infections are rife and milestones are slow. It is a very heartbreaking thing to see your baby is such a helpless state and you cannot even hold them. Most times though, the baby improves daily until they no longer need to be in the incubator and can now go home with mommy. And here is where things get thick. NICU costs are extremely high and majority of insurances covers do not cater for premature deliveries. And so parents are stuck in the hospital when they should be home – trying to raise money to pay the bill.
I met one such mom last year. She had delivered twins prematurely. Unfortunately one did not make it. Her daughter was in the nursery for at least a month. In that month, she would come daily from home (staying in the hospital adds to the bill) to see her baby and express milk for her. I walked with her through this journey and it was so heart wrenching. I remember the joy when she was finally allowed to hold her daughter and breastfeed her! And then finally they were discharged. But they could not leave hospital until the bill was paid. What shocked her most is that her maternity cover did not cater for the premature deliveries. And so we started calling friends and putting up social media posts to rally people to help us raise the bill money. And eventually we did. But what is the use of a maternity insurance cover that does not cater to babies born prematurely? Most covers I know cater for ANC visits, delivery and baby if born after 37 weeks. Honestly what is the point of paying for the ante natal clinics if when baby comes I am on my own? So far I have come across very few insurance covers whose maternity package caters to preemie deliveries. Minet is one of them. Specifically, the Minet cover for TSC teachers. I stumbled upon it while I was doing my research on this topic and what blew me away is that this cover is being catered for by the government for all TSC teachers! To understand the gravity of this, you have to know that TSC teachers are posted all over the country – even the remotest of places. And it gives me immense joy to know that a preemie baby born anywhere in the country has a shot at life because what they need is catered for and mom doesn’t have to add hospital bill to her list of worries as her baby struggles to live. Which other maternity insurance covers do you know that cater for premature deliveries?
Author: Wanjiru Kihusa
I am Wanjiru Kihusa and I’m a writer and founder of Still A Mum – an organization that seeks to reduce maternal and newborn deaths in Africa. I am especially passionate about women and children.
I blog to share my thoughts and experiences hoping that in the process someone will learn from my life.