New LDS Charities Training Program to Improve Health of Mothers and Babies Worldwide

Contributed By Alex Phippen, Welfare Services

  • 5 May 2015

An LDS Charities specialist teaches midwives neonatal resuscitation techniques using a newborn simulator at a Helping Babies Breathe training in Bandung, Indonesia.

Article Highlights

  • Changes to LDS Charities maternal and newborn care training programs will have a greater impact in saving the lives of infants and mothers throughout the world.
  • The new program consists of neonatal resuscitation, maternal care, and essential care for every baby.

“As we conducted neonatal resuscitation training programs to save babies who are not breathing at birth, it became apparent that we needed to include programs designed to decrease maternal mortality as well.” —Dr. George M. Bennett, NRT specialist for LDS Charities

Elza Kunelashvili, a midwife from Akhaltsikhe, Georgia, was on duty at the hospital when a baby was born with no heartbeat. The staff knew that the baby was most likely dead. As Elza took the baby in her hands, the situation changed.

Elza explained, “When I put him in my palm, I felt a heartbeat. Luckily I had taken a neonatal resuscitation training course. … I started ventilating the baby with a bag and mask, and by the end of the first minute, he was alive. Just imagine my joy and the joy of his parents. His father was jumping up and down! I have had 41 years of working experience, but this case was the most special in my life. I will always remember this special baby and this experience.”

This is just one of many inspiring stories told by individuals from around the world who have helped save lives because of the neonatal resuscitation training they received from LDS Charities volunteers.  

LDS Charities has a strong commitment to helping care for mothers and infants. Over the last 10 years, LDS Charities has worked in collaboration with other organizations to help babies survive by providing doctors, nurses, and midwives the knowledge and equipment needed to resuscitate babies not breathing at birth.

This training has been well received in those countries where projects have been implemented. Having already touched the lives of more than 30,000 individuals in 42 countries, LDS Charities is now expanding their program to save even more lives. In January 2015, LDS Charities changed the name of the Neonatal Resuscitation Training (NRT) signature program to Maternal and Newborn Care (MNC) to incorporate new training curriculum.

Nurses, midwives, and physicians learn neonatal resuscitation techniques with equipment and training provided by LDS Charities in Accra, Ghana.

“As we conducted neonatal resuscitation training programs to save babies who are not breathing at birth, it became apparent that we needed to include programs designed to decrease maternal mortality as well,” said Dr. George M. Bennett, an NRT specialist for LDS Charities.  

The MNC signature program consists of three main components: Neonatal Resuscitation, Maternal Care, and Essential Care for Every Baby. Curriculum is available for each section and is used by LDS Charities in partnership with Jhpiego and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“Working with other global partners is much more effective in that we can work together in countries and combine resources to make a much bigger impact,” said Dean Walker, MNC signature program manager. “Partnering together with other organizations has a multiplier effect on the work and leads to greater success.”

Neonatal Resuscitation Training

NRT life-saving techniques will continue to be taught to doctors, nurses, and midwives based on the “Helping Babies Breathe” (HBB) curriculum. LDS Charities uses the train-the-trainer method as in-country representatives from hospitals and clinics are taught resuscitation skills that they can then teach to others. In order to provide a hands-on learning experience, LDS Charities donates newborn simulators and transportable bags of training and clinical equipment.

Maternal Care

A Mongolian mother holds her baby following a life-saving procedure taught by neonatal resuscitation trainers for LDS Charities. Photo by Mark Philbrick.

Training for Maternal Care will come from the “Helping Mothers Survive” (HMS) curriculum. Techniques to stop and prevent postpartum hemorrhaging is the primary focus of this training, as bleeding after birth is the leading cause of maternal fatalities. In June 2014, this new curriculum was piloted in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. LDS Charities partnered with the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Tajikistan, UNICEF, and various other organizations for these initial trainings. The results were highly successful as 15 midwife master trainers and 200 midwives and nurses were instructed in HMS practices.

Essential Care for Every Baby

Proper care is vital during a baby’s first few days of life in order for the baby to continue its healthy development. Materials from the “Essential Care for Every Baby” (ECEB) curriculum teach correct breastfeeding techniques, maintaining a baby’s normal body temperature, checking for danger signs, and other life-saving practices. The curriculum for all three elements in the Maternal and Newborn Care signature program are designed in similar formats. This is done to foster improved understanding by presenting the information in a consistent and simple manner. Although only one training is typically given at a time, multiple trainings can be paired together depending on the specific needs of the area or country.

In addition to these three trainings, LDS Charities will introduce a fourth training in 2016. This new element in the MNC signature program will be called “Essential Care for the Small Baby” (ECSB). Skills needed to save the lives of babies born prematurely will be the central focus of this coming curriculum. 

“The expanding structure of our projects will make a deeper, more lasting impact on the health of mothers and newborns throughout the world,” said Walker. “It is exciting to be part of such an impactful work in helping others.”