Chidikiliro: Providing Care for Mothers in Rural Malawi

How Lack of Food Affects Maternal Health

Maize distribution to pregnant women in Malawi
Maize flour is distributed to pregnant mothers during Chidikiliro

Accessing medical care in rural Malawi

In Malawi, Chidikiliro is when a pregnant woman arrives at the hospital early and waits for labor to begin. Many women in rural Malawi have to travel a great distance to reach a hospital. It requires a strenuous trip that potentially could result in them delivering their baby on the road or while they are still at home. The likelihood of these dangerous deliveries increases during the rainy season when roads may become impassable. Due to this, pregnant women often go for Chidikiliro, allowing them to wait at the hospital in the days and weeks leading up to their delivery. 

However, this can lead to a problem in providing food for their family.

Lack of food contributes to delay in medical care

Many families can not afford to feed family at home and the family members that travel to the hospital to prepare for a delivery. Mothers would often rather stay at home and be economical with food to ensure their family gets fed first.

Providing food for pregnant mothers encourages them to access healthcare

This challenge is what spurred Orant’s Healthcare program to start giving maize flour to pregnant women who come to our facility for Chidikiliro. This process keeps the mother and baby safe, allowing her to receive medical care prior to and during the full labor, rather than laboring at home.

“Giving maize flour to pregnant women who come to our facility for Chidikiliro encourages women to come to hospital on time as they do not have to worry about feeding themselves, their guardians and also feeding the family they have left at home,” says Linda Phiri, Program Manager for the Maternal, Neonatal, Child and Adolescent Health Services

This initiative also helps pregnant women to have more energy when delivering. “Lack of food leads to poor maternal effort which is dangerous for both the mother and unborn baby. By ensuring that pregnant women have food, it also increases their maternal effort allowing for an easier delivery,” she explains.

Porridge flour provided to nursing mothers

Our Healthcare Program plans to start providing porridge flour to mothers who come for postnatal check ups as well. This is a way of encouraging them not to miss postnatal visits whilst making sure that women are eating enough to produce milk for their babies, therefore also preventing malnutrition in the newborn babies.

How Orant is promoting maternal health in rural Malawi

We are currently renovating our maternity ward so that we can serve even more mothers and babies in the future with better technology and an environment where they know they are safe. Read more about our healthcare program here.

The Orant Journal