Stella is living in Mbayani, one of the many suburbs of Malawi’s second biggest city Blantyre. At 32, she is already expecting her fourth child, which will be born next month. Her parents help her with any questions related to her pregnancy, and Stella’s husband provides whatever she needs for herself and their unborn baby.

Hopefully, everything will go well – but Stella has already experienced the pain of losing a child through a miscarriage: Whilst Stella was pregnant with a child in her 6th month, she suddenly started feeling cold, experienced headaches and strong back pain. The same night, fluids started coming out, and Stella delivered a dead baby.

Knowing what to do

Bena and Edith are two St John volunteers in Mbayani, who go from door to door to visit pregnant women and new mothers. One day, a few months ago, they saw Stella selling nuts on the road. Because her baby was already showing, they approached her and talked to her about how St John’s Mother and Baby programme can help her and her unborn baby to stay healthy.

During their first visit, Bena and Edith taught Stella the importance of going early to antenatal care checks. Sometimes, Stella has a headache and feels pain in her legs, and because the baby is too high up, she feels like there is not enough space in her chest. But during the checks in the nearby clinic, the nurse told her that this is nothing to worry about.

On one of their other visits, the volunteers also met with Stella’s husband and encouraged him to prepare in advance for the delivery in the clinic.

Still, Stella and her husband don’t know if their next child will be a girl or a boy. But with the support of St John, they know what measures to take and what to avoid to become parents