Our Work

Mother-Child Helpline
The Need

Severely curtailed health services have disconnected individuals and families from healthcare, support systems and information. COVID-19 fear and stigma, outreach service retractions and a shortage of non-COVID medication have reduced care-seeking. Millions of families are unable to ask critical questions and receive routine preventive care over the course of pregnancy, labour, postpartum, infancy and beyond. Comorbidities (e.g., diabetes, hypertension, mental health) , undernutrition, low birth weight, breastfeeding problems and missed vaccination are examples of conditions that amplify missteps and can quickly intensify. India risks losing hard-fought progress in maternal, newborn and infant health for over 25 million annual births. Community-based strategies could prevent neonatal deaths by one third and prevent maternal harm, and are urgently needed.

The BBN Solution

BBN’s innovative free Mother-Child COVID-19 Helpline provides guidance on pregnancy, birth, postpartum and newborn/infant health in the context of COVID-19 to anyone seeking help in India and even outside the country without costing the callers anything.

We give practical advice about safely seeking care during the pandemic, safety precautions for pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers and newborns and on-the-ground assistance with testing locations and protocols. We help callers find MCH (maternal child health) facilities, providers and services that meet their needs. We emphasize reproductive rights even-and especially-during the lockdown. We help women navigate pandemic-related reproductive rights abuses such as refusal of care in labour when the woman lacks COVID-test results; the separation of mother and baby after birth due to lack of COVID-test results; and caesarean section with no medical indications.

Impact/Coverage

During the first six months of the pandemic, calls to our Helpline increased by 80%. Our callers are from all parts of India as well as Pakistan, Kuwait and Dubai. We have provided guidance and support in finding a doctor/hospital when most were refusing new or COVID-positive patients, COVID-care measures if positive, precautionary measures during consultations, protocols for birth during COVID and more.

Our Response Rate

In 2020, our ability to address callers’ needs was close to 100%.

The Need

Severely curtailed health services have disconnected individuals and families from healthcare, support systems and information. COVID-19 fear and stigma, outreach service retractions and a shortage of non-COVID medication have reduced care-seeking. Millions of families are unable to ask critical questions and receive routine preventive care over the course of pregnancy, labour, postpartum, infancy and beyond. Comorbidities (e.g., diabetes, hypertension, mental health) , undernutrition, low birth weight, breastfeeding problems and missed vaccination are examples of conditions that amplify missteps and can quickly intensify. India risks losing hard-fought progress in maternal, newborn and infant health for over 25 million annual births. Community-based strategies could prevent neonatal deaths by one third and prevent maternal harm, and are urgently needed.

The BBN Solution

BBN’s innovative free Mother-Child COVID-19 Helpline provides guidance on pregnancy, birth, postpartum and newborn/infant health in the context of COVID-19 to anyone seeking help in India and even outside the country without costing the callers anything.

We give practical advice about safely seeking care during the pandemic, safety precautions for pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers and newborns and on-the-ground assistance with testing locations and protocols. We help callers find MCH (maternal child health) facilities, providers and services that meet their needs. We emphasize reproductive rights even-and especially-during the lockdown. We help women navigate pandemic-related reproductive rights abuses such as refusal of care in labour when the woman lacks COVID-test results; the separation of mother and baby after birth due to lack of COVID-test results; and caesarean section with no medical indications.

Impact/Coverage

During the first six months of the pandemic, calls to our Helpline increased by 80%. Our callers are from all parts of India as well as Pakistan, Kuwait and Dubai. We have provided guidance and support in finding a doctor/hospital when most were refusing new or COVID-positive patients, COVID-care measures if positive, precautionary measures during consultations, protocols for birth during COVID and more.

Our Response Rate

In 2020, our ability to address callers’ needs was close to 100%.

Mother-Child Helpline
Highlights of the BBN Helpline

No Cost

This innovative approach works effectively without any cost to the caller. Being a Missed Call Service, the call gets disconnected after one ring, and the caller’s number gets stored in a database. The call is not actually completed and connected at the time the call is placed and therefore does not carry a cost.

Timely Support

A counsellor on the helpline returns the missed call in less than 12 hours to speak with the caller directly. Average response time is 2 hours.

Qualified Counsellors

 Our Counsellors are paramedical professionals and peer counsellors who are trained in the WHO and India’s national guidelines on COVID-19 for pregnant, birthing, postpartum and breastfeeding women. Senior Counsellors review all cases and extend additional support in high-need cases.

Global Reach

Our counsellors speak eight different Indian languages as well as English. Callers from Kerala and Tamil Nadu in the south to Kashmir in the north and from other countries like Pakistan, Kuwait and Dubai have accessed the service. Much of the information we provide is also applicable to other countries.

The Need

More than one-quarter of the world’s neonatal deaths happen in India.

In 2018, an estimated 882,000 children under five died in India, the highest in the world. Many of the deaths occur before children turn one. As many as 33 of 1,000 children died within one year of birth in 2017, according to data from the government’s Sample Registration System (2019).

The neonatal period—the first 28 days of life—carries the highest risk of mortality per day than any other period during childhood. The first 24 hours account for more than one-third (36.9%) of the deaths that occur in the entire neonatal period.

A report from UNICEF (2019), noted that since almost half of all under-five deaths are among newborns, many can be prevented by reaching higher coverage of good quality antenatal care, skilled care at birth, postnatal care for the mother and the baby, and care of small and sick newborns. Newborns have better chances of survival if breastfed within the first hour of birth, as this UNICEF report says: “When breastfeeding is delayed after birth, the consequences can be life-threatening and the longer newborns are left waiting, the greater the risk.”

The BBN Solution

Keeping in mind the alarming statistics, Bangalore Birth Network (BBN) conceptualised its innovative Baby Gold program. This program focuses on Birth Hour care–helping women and babies thrive in the first hour after birth. The program gives the necessary care and support to ensure that new mothers and their babies have the best possible start to life together. Some of the best practices that we encourage:

  • Drying the baby gently, preserving the natural white cream (vernix)
  • Optimal cord clamping: Clamp when the umbilical cord turns white (when all the blood from the placenta is finished transferring to the baby – up to one-third of the baby’s blood)
  • Placing the baby immediately on the mother skin-to-skin; not forcing the baby to the nipple
  • Supporting early initiation of breastfeeding to ensure the baby benefits from colostrum
  • Maternal Microbiome Seeding, i.e., transfer of beneficial maternal bacteria to the newborn that occurs through First Hour practices.

These practices are even more important during the COVID-19 pandemic to help every woman and her baby stay safe at a time when maternal and child health is facing grave challenges and barriers to care. 

BBN has integrated Baby Gold into our Mother-Child Helpline to provide additional support to help women and their babies during this pandemic.

To learn more visit www.babygold.in or give us a missed call on 7412900045

Baby Gold
Baby Gold
The Need

More than one-quarter of the world’s neonatal deaths happen in India.

In 2018, an estimated 882,000 children under five died in India, the highest in the world. Many of the deaths occur before children turn one. As many as 33 of 1,000 children died within one year of birth in 2017, according to data from the government’s Sample Registration System (2019).

The neonatal period—the first 28 days of life—carries the highest risk of mortality per day than any other period during childhood. The first 24 hours account for more than one-third (36.9%) of the deaths that occur in the entire neonatal period.

A report from UNICEF (2019), noted that since almost half of all under-five deaths are among newborns, many can be prevented by reaching higher coverage of good quality antenatal care, skilled care at birth, postnatal care for the mother and the baby, and care of small and sick newborns. Newborns have better chances of survival if breastfed within the first hour of birth, as this UNICEF report says: “When breastfeeding is delayed after birth, the consequences can be life-threatening and the longer newborns are left waiting, the greater the risk.”

The BBN Solution

Keeping in mind the alarming statistics, Bangalore Birth Network (BBN) conceptualised its innovative Baby Gold program. This program focuses on Birth Hour care–helping women and babies thrive in the first hour after birth. The program gives the necessary care and support to ensure that new mothers and their babies have the best possible start to life together. Some of the best practices that we encourage:

  • Drying the baby gently, preserving the natural white cream (vernix)
  • Optimal cord clamping: Clamp when the umbilical cord turns white (when all the blood from the placenta is finished transferring to the baby – up to one-third of the baby’s blood)
  • Placing the baby immediately on the mother skin-to-skin; not forcing the baby to the nipple
  • Supporting early initiation of breastfeeding to ensure the baby benefits from colostrum
  • Maternal Microbiome Seeding, i.e., transfer of beneficial maternal bacteria to the newborn that occurs through First Hour practices.

These practices are even more important during the COVID-19 pandemic to help every woman and her baby stay safe at a time when maternal and child health is facing grave challenges and barriers to care. 

BBN has integrated Baby Gold into our Mother-Child Helpline to provide additional support to help women and their babies during this pandemic.

To learn more visit www.babygold.in or give us a missed call on 7412900045

My Birth Counts Survey
The Need

To date in India there is no nationally representative, periodic survey related to evidence-based maternity care and the mistreatment of women when seeking perinatal services.

Private hospitals have few reporting requirements available to the public, and government institutions track only basic outcomes such as mode of delivery and outcome for woman and baby. This lack of transparency protects the interests of private hospitals and not of the patients.

The BBN Solution

In response to the lack of detailed data on the treatment of women and the use of medical intervention in maternity care, BBN developed the ‘My Birth Counts Survey’. 

The objectives of the survey are to:

1) Establish a baseline of data regarding evidence-based, non-evidence-based and respectful maternity care practices.

2) Provide these aggregate data to consumers, practitioners, policymakers and stakeholders to empower better-informed choices in improving the quality of maternity care and policy in India.

The MBC Survey is an online, computer-based, self-administered survey in English if you are over 18 and have had a baby in the last five years in India.

The Need

To date in India there is no nationally representative, periodic survey related to evidence-based maternity care and the mistreatment of women when seeking perinatal services.

Private hospitals have few reporting requirements available to the public, and government institutions track only basic outcomes such as mode of delivery and outcome for woman and baby. This lack of transparency protects the interests of private hospitals and not of the patients.

The BBN Solution

In response to the lack of detailed data on the treatment of women and the use of medical intervention in maternity care, BBN developed the ‘My Birth Counts Survey’. 

The objectives of the survey are to:

1) Establish a baseline of data regarding evidence-based, non-evidence-based and respectful maternity care practices.

2) Provide these aggregate data to consumers, practitioners, policymakers and stakeholders to empower better-informed choices in improving the quality of maternity care and policy in India.

The MBC Survey is an online, computer-based, self-administered survey in English if you are over 18 and have had a baby in the last five years in India.

My Birth Counts Survey
Other Projects