Christmas 2013: Caring for mums and babies in Lesotho.

A pregnant charity worker from London has experienced first-hand what the challenges are in pregnancy and birth for mums to be in Lesotho, Africa.

Katharine Hamilton visited St James’ Hospital in Mantsonyane

While six months pregnant with her third child, Katharine Hamilton, 43, visited St James’ Hospital, in Mantsonyane, Lesotho, to see its work with new mothers and their babies. The hospital is located high in the mountains of Lesotho where the temperature in winter is very cold, and the terrain is rough and barren.

In the surrounding rural communities healthcare is difficult to access, and the hospital is a lifeline for mums-to-be as they draw close to labour and birth.

Katharine Hamilton, who works for the Christian charity Us, said: ‘Women can walk many hours to reach the hospital while in labour and some have even given birth on the way. I can’t imagine having to walk to the hospital while in labour.’

The hospital has set up a waiting mothers lodge for women who live a distance away, or those with complications. This enables help to be close at hand for these women in the final weeks before birth.

Katharine, who is expecting her own Christmas baby any time soon, continued: ‘The challenges that these women face remind me of what Mary must have been experiencing in the days before she gave birth to Jesus. Being at the hospital was more demanding than I thought it would be. It was very cold, there was no running water, and seeing the newborn babies was emotional for me. But I was very impressed with the way the midwives support the women and babies (Read about Maliba’s own Maternal Health Care Workshops). They really are expressing the love of God through the care they provide.’

Mamokete Makana, now aged 80, lost 10 of her 11 children to sicknesses of different kinds.Us helps to fund the work of St James’ Hospital as it provides maternal healthcare to the women living in the surrounding villages. As an Anglican hospital, St James’ not only provides medical treatment, but also pastoral care and social support. This Christmas the charity is asking for donations to support the work of hospital with pregnant women, new mothers and their babies.

Video diary: meet mums and babies in Lesotho

Katharine Hamilton made a video diary of her time at the hospital.

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