Great expectations

Six mothers share their experiences of pregnancy and childbirth
Six mothers share their experiences of pregnancy, childbirth, and life with a young baby

The subject of World Health Day 2005 was maternal and child health.

In Great expectations, six mothers living in different countries of the world are sharing their experiences of pregnancy, childbirth, and life with a young baby. The babies are now one year old. This is the final instalment of Great expectations. The series was launched over 12 months ago to highlight World Health Day 2005 – the theme of which was maternal and child health.

Happy birthday, babies!




One year after giving birth, our mothers – Damiana from Bolivia, Samah from Egypt, Hiwot from Ethiopia, Renu from India, Bounlid from Lao People's Democratic Republic, and Claire from the United Kingdom – celebrate their baby's first year.

At one year, our babies are becoming little people. They are taking their first steps and speaking their first words. They are also, thankfully, healthy. Every child, with the exception of Lang in the Lao People's Democratic Republic, is fully immunized against childhood diseases. All six children are now eating solid foods and four are still breastfeeding.

WHO recommends that all children receive immunizations against polio, tuberculosis, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, measles, hepatitis B and haemophilus influenzae type B by their first birthday. Starting at six months, WHO also recommends that infants be fed freshly-prepared, nutrient-rich food while continuing to be breastfed for up to two years.

Some of the parents want to have another child. WHO recommends that couples wait at least two years from one birth to the time a woman attempts to become pregnant again.

At WHO we are grateful to the families for giving us, and the world, unique insight into their lives. We hope that you – our readers – do too. Please feel free to wish the babies happy birthday at internet@who.int. We will make sure that your best wishes are conveyed to the families.

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Follow the women's stories from five months pregnant to six weeks after the birth of their babies.
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Photo stories

The world of a nine-month-old
Nine months after giving birth, our mothers report back on their babies' progress and the environment in which their babies are growing. Do the mothers have access to clean water for drinking and bathing? Are they able to protect their children against the threat of diseases like malaria?

Six babies at six months
Half a year after giving birth, our mothers report back on their babies' progress. Are they still breastfeeding? What immunizations have the babies had? Are the mothers receiving enough support and information from their local health authorities?

Six weeks old: flourishing new lives
At six weeks old, the babies are thriving. Their mothers – Damiana, Samah, Hiwot, Renu, Bounlid and Claire – are becoming more used to life with a new baby, and share their feelings about their childs' health, and about returning to work.

One week old: on the seventh day
Damiana, Samah, Hiwot, Renu, Bounlid and Claire are beginning to see what their newborn babies will be like – and get a sense of what life will be like with a new addition to the family.

Birth: when a child is born
Brought to life with dramatic photographs, the six new mothers share their feelings and experiences about the birth of their babies and the medical care they received.

Seven months pregnant: hopes and fears
Damiana, Samah, Hiwot, Renu, Bounlid and Claire share their hopes and fears. They share their thoughts about having a girl or a boy, and describe their support from loved ones and the medical care they are receiving at seven months pregnant.

Five months pregnant
At five months into their pregnancies, Damiana, Samah, Hiwot, Renu, Bounlid and Claire begin sharing their stories from different parts of the world: Bolivia, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, the Lao People's Democratic Republic, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The broader perspective

These are six unique stories, but they reflect a common theme – the central importance of maternal and child health to our families, communities and societies. In a world where more than half a million women die in pregnancy and childbirth every year and where nearly 11 million children each year do not survive beyond their fifth birthday, these stories aim to raise awareness of the challenges we face as a global community in improving maternal and newborn health. They also draw attention to the pressing need to meet the Millennium Development Goals of reducing maternal deaths by three quarters, and reducing child mortality by two thirds by 2015.

All six mothers gave their consent for these photographs to be taken and published by WHO.

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