Asphyxiation at birth is a startlingly pervasive problem–1 million babies die at birth every year because they are unable to breathe. This is most likely a problem in places where deliveries happen without trained or, at the least, experienced birth attendants. Doctors, nurses, and midwives are trained how to respond to various possible situations during child birth, whether it’s the mother that needs help or the child.

Sometimes, especially in areas with meager healthcare and in poor communities where a professional can’t be accessed and the woman is all alone, childbirth becomes a dire situation. With spreading awareness, however, and new charities that focus on training birth attendants, general complications that arise because of childbirth can be addressed and are likely to reduce.

Helping Babies Breathe (HBB) is an organization that spreads awareness and education regarding asphyxiation at birth. Started by the American Academy of Pediatrics, and working with WHO, USAID, and other organizations, HBB specializes in training birth attendants to respond to a situation in which a newborn baby is unable to breathe at birth. HBB hopes to have at least one trained/experienced birth attendant at every birth–ambitious, but possible.

HBB training stresses the importance of the first minute of a child’s life; it is the minute they can breathe on their own, or it is the minute a vent has to assist their breathing. HBB calls this “The Golden Minute ®.” The training program, which has been in implementation in 48 countries all over the world, ranging from Africa and Asia to Central and South America, should bring about the eventual reduction of child mortality. Access to a safe and successful delivery and post-delivery care should be available to every mother and child, and HBB is on the way to achieve that.

– Aalekhya Malladi

Sources: Helping Babies Breathe, Healthy Newborn Network
Photo: Hands Up for Haiti