Bridging the world in birth

Time of article published May 7, 2003

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Profiling families from diverse ethnic, cultural, political and economic backgrounds, Discovery Channel on DStv commemorates mothers around the world with the premiere of World Birth Day 2003 on Sunday at 9pm.

The programme contrasts the different preparations and emotions experienced by mothers before, during and after giving birth.

Bridging 18 time zones around the globe, World Birth Day 2003 captures families sharing the experience of childbirth in eight countries on the same day.

World Birth Day 2003 will introduce viewers to:

  • Anna Zitha. In Soweto, at the Baragwanath Hospital, the nurses pray for strength, as it is one of the world's largest hospitals, and on this day there are more than six patients for every nurse. Baragwanath is a poor hospital and has money for essentials only, but the greatest drain on its resources is also the greatest danger to the nation itself - nearly a third of the women who give birth there are HIV positive. But Anna is one of the lucky ones; she tested negative and so does her baby girl.

  • Kareema Quraish. A 40-year-old woman from Kabul, Afghanistan, Kareema is embarking on a dangerous journey. The life expectancy for a woman in Afghanistan is only 43, and the most dangerous thing an Afghan woman can do is bear a child - one in seven die that way.

  • Mariana Crivello. A young and happy newlywed from C–rdoba, Argentina, Mariana conceived during her honeymoon. Nine months and one week after their wedding, she and her husband, Alberto, return home with baby Santiago. While economic troubles have dashed some of the couple's dreams, their joy far outweighs their concerns.

  • Ritu Rathod. In Mumbai, India, Ritu and her husband, Ramesh, are anxiously awaiting the birth of their first child. Ritu has miscarried twice before, so concerned doctors have scheduled a Caesarean section. After a successful operation, an elated Ramesh must drag himself away from his newborn son and get back to work, as the operation will set him back another month's pay.

  • Sachiyo Tanaka. In the greyest nation in the world, Sachiyo and her husband, Keijii, from Hiroshima, are an exception. Already the parents of two, they are expecting their third child - and Keijii always makes family a priority. Amid the threat of an approaching typhoon, Sachiyo gives birth at a clinic that offers a spa-like experience, including a massage and makeover.

  • Aileen Rea. A mixed couple living in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Aileen is Catholic and her husband, Andy, is Protestant. July is "Marching Season", when Protestants celebrate their triumph over a Catholic army in 1690; it can be a volatile time. After a risky pregnancy and with bonfires blazing in the distance, Aileen and Andy celebrate the birth of their healthy baby girl.

  • Svetlana Cipula. When Svetlana and her husband, Eduardo, first discovered she was pregnant, they were living in Vietnam. As a member of the Russian navy, Eduardo does not have a big income and the couple was hesitant to start their family. They decided Svetlana should have an abortion, but on moving back to their home in Vladivostok, they were surprised to learn that Svetlana is still pregnant. Although money was still an issue, they were relieved to be back home and happily decided to continue with the pregnancy.

  • Rena Mims. In Memphis, Tennessee, Rena, a single mother of two, is getting ready to have two more. She is pregnant with monoamniotic-monochorionic twins - they are not only identical, but also share the same sac and the same placenta. This does not happen very often and when it does, it presents a serious risk. Rena's babies will be six weeks premature and they will have to fight to stay alive.

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