Expectant Mothers In Haiti Fearful Of Raising Children In Devastated Nation

Mothers and expectant mothers are sharing their worries for the future of their children following the devastating effects of Hurricane Matthew.

As CBS News shares, Nathanaelle Bernard was two months from her due date for her first child when the hurricane destroyed her tiny home that was constructed of cinder blocks. Strong waves carried many of her belongings away, some of which had been collected for her baby. She remains ready to welcome her little one, despite the ruin that exists around her, and with the knowledge that fresh water and food are hard to come by.

The nervous mother-to-be shared her worries with the publication.

“I always had this dream my child wouldn’t want for anything,” the 19-year-old said on a recent morning, her face glowing with sweat as she cradled her swollen belly. After a pause, she added: “It was a nice dream.”

Since the storm hit, Nathanaelle has had to share a small hut with five members of her extended family, a space that is cramped enough and is soon to have one more helpless addition. The United Nations Population Fund shares that approximately 14,000 women are set to give birth in the next three months within Haiti. Shortages of clean water, housing, and meat, as well as other healthy foods, not to mention the poor sanitation that has resulted in a breeding ground for cholera, instill fear in many women and their families.

Childbirth and pregnancy have always been a risk within Haiti, as the nation has the highest rate of maternal mortality in the Western Hemisphere. Many women living in rural areas give birth at home, with midwives assisting them who are untrained.

As the publication notes, advances have been made based in childbirth, yet Matthew has resulted in a set back.

“”The Haitian government, with international assistance, has implemented programs that have helped reduce the maternal death rate by nearly half over the past decade. But, with 359 women dying for every 100,000 births due to complications, Haiti is on par with countries such as Ethiopia and Madagascar, according to the U.N. Many experts fear the advances have been rolled back by Hurricane Matthew, which made landfall on the peninsula Oct. 4. The government says the storm killed 546 people and destroyed the crops and livestock that people like Bernard and her family depend on for survival.

Across the disaster zone, clinics and hospitals have been damaged, and medicine is scarce. As Marielle Sanders, a UN representative states, this makes for a “lethal combination.”

“It is tragic that a single storm can tear up so much of this progress, and that in a single day we can be set back by years.”

A head nurse at one of the remaining clinics shares that even prior to the hurricane hitting, the nation was in short supply of essential medicines.

“Before the hurricane we didn’t have enough antibiotics and other medication. But now the situation’s harder. We need more of a lot of things.”

Bernard admits she fears the birth and raising her child in such terrible circumstances. She tries to push the negativity out of her mind but admits it’s tough to do while she is undernourished and faced with the threat of disease. The Zika virus is also a common fear in pregnant women within the nation of Haiti.

The 27-year-old father of the unborn baby, Romual Saint-Jean, moved Bernard to a coastal village to be with her uncle, near Port-au-Prince, after she had contracted typhoid in 2016. They believed that the slow pace and sea air would be a good shift for her. He now wishes desperately to move the family overseas, yet is unable to afford such a move. Once a Portuguese-Haitian Creole translator for Haiti’s UN peacekeeping mission, he now struggles to find any work.

“I don’t see a future here,” he said.

[Featured Image by Adrian White/U.S. Navy/Getty Images]