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A star shines over this family in Kenya

Giving birth for the first time is incredibly daunting wherever you are. And Fridah Mwari was very unwell during her pregnancy, making the situation even more overwhelming.

Fridah's condition wasn't diagnosed and, not knowing what to do, her husband, Gerald Kimani, panicked and sent her away to her family home to have the baby.

There the local traditional birth attendant told Fridah that if she went to hospital, nurses would beat her, so she had her baby at home.

‘It was not good,’ Fridah said. ‘They didn’t tell me what would happen when I went into labour. They just told me to be brave.’

Fridah was advised against breastfeeding and was told to give her baby daughter Amanda cow's milk. As a result Amanda was underweight as a baby and often sick.

Mother-to-mother support

Fridah was desperate for some advice. When she became pregnant for the second time, she joined the local mother-to-mother support group, set up by our partner.

She was encouraged to attend regular antenatal check-ups. It was then that she discovered she suffers from a condition that causes very high blood pressure, putting her and the baby at risk.

A couple sit with their two young children

Life-saving care

Her second baby, Steve, was born four weeks early in hospital by caesarean section and spent a month in an incubator.

If he’d been born at home, like Amanda, he probably would have died, and Fridah’s life would also have been in serious danger.

Father-to-father groups

Gerald wanted to help his wife so he started going to father-to-father groups to learn about the importance of healthcare and living in harmony with his wife.

He said: ‘Before Fridah and I were talking but only a little. Now I see she is a human being and this is her house and our home. I am very happy now. It’s very nice to be close to my children.’

Amanda, now five-years-old, and her little brother Steve are both happy and healthy. Fridah and Gerald are a couple transformed.

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