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Last Updated: Friday, 21 April 2006, 09:28 GMT 10:28 UK
Claire's baby
The World Health Organization is following six women around the world to compare their experiences of pregnancy and motherhood. Here, Claire Roche from the UK describes life with her baby Isabella, who is now one.

Damiana Mamani:
Bolivia

Samah Mohamed :
Egypt


Hiwot Abraham:
Ethiopia
Renu Sharma:
India

Bounlid:
Laos

Claire Roche:
UK

"We had a party at home to celebrate Isabella's birthday.

"Isabella has started becoming a little fussy with her food.

WHO/Karen Robinson
'Her birthday is a real milestone'

"She loves her breakfast of cereal and toast and especially enjoys eating fresh fruits.

"Isabella chatters away in her own language, but clearly says mama, dada and nana - her name for her grandmother.

"She likes watching me do 'grown-up things', like taking the washing up out of the machine.

"And she loves music, and dances whenever she hears it.

"Her first year has been exciting for all of us. It has been wonderful to watch her grow from a tiny baby into a toddler.

"She is very much her own character and is quite strong-willed, even at just one-year-old.

"We would love to have a little brother or sister for Isabella."

In the UK, the WHO says just five in every 1,000 children die before they are one.


Nine months old

Claire said: "Both Isabella and I are feeling fine."

Copyright - WHO/Karen Robinson
'Isabella loves her baths'

"I'm really enjoying being a mum - it gets better and better every day! Isabella is also thriving. She now weighs 9.1kg.

"Isabella can stand up by herself and has started saying a few words, including 'dada', 'mama' and 'nana'."

Claire added: "Clean water is not a problem in London.

"We could drink the water from the tap, but prefer bottled water which we buy from the supermarket.

"We use the clean tap water for cooking, cleaning and washing. Isabella has a bath once a day which she loves!"


At six months

Claire said her daughter weighed 9kg and is 66.5cm tall.

Claire said Isabella is eating quite a varied diet now.

"Isabella drinks milk two times per day, but she also loves eating solid food and there is very little that she won't try!

"She has cereal for breakfast and mixed vegetables for lunch. Then she will have vegetables with meat - usually chicken - for dinner."

Claire added: "Isabella is crawling everywhere these days and can sit up on her own.

"My mother takes Isabella to the baby clinic every other Thursday, because I'm back at work four days a week now.

"Isabella has a child health record book, which will help us keep track of her health and development until she is five years old. She has received all her immunisations.

The WHO says that in the UK, a negligible proportion of infants aged six to 11 months old are underweight.


Six weeks old

"Things are slowly getting back to normal now.

"Every Thursday, we go to the local clinic for check-ups. The nurses monitor Isabella's growth and development closely.

"My mother and husband Kevin are a great help. Kevin helps out as much as he can when he's not at work - he changes Isabella and always helps out with bathing her."

In the UK, one in 167 children die before the age of five.


Seven days old

A week after her daughter was born, Claire said: "Isabella lost a lot of weight during her first few days but has gained it back now. She has lots of very dark hair and looks just like her father.

"I'm recovering well from the Caesarean operation. Isabella is thriving, although she's not sleeping well at night. My husband and I are completely exhausted.

"We've been trying to establish a routine and I'm trying to sleep when Isabella sleeps, as the midwife advised, but it's exhausting.

"My Mum stayed over one night during the week so we could get at least one good night's sleep. My family are a great support."

She added: "The past seven days have been totally consumed by Isabella. I've done nothing but look after her, even though I'm not breastfeeding."

The WHO says that in the UK, only three in every 1,000 babies die during their first week of life from preventable diseases.


Childbirth

Claire's daughter was born on Christmas Day. She had been told she would have to be induced, as her baby was two weeks overdue.
Claire with her daughter Isabella
'My husband was hugely supportive'

But her contractions started normally when she reached the hospital.

"During my labour, I was examined at regular intervals and everything was done to encourage a natural labour.

"However, after almost five hours of labour the doctors determined that Isabella's head was not fully engaged, so they decided to deliver her by Caesarean section."

Claire added: "I am happy with that decision and understand it was for the best.

"Throughout my pregnancy and especially at the time of delivery, I have been very happy with the level of care I have received."

The WHO said Claire was fortunate to be able to have a Caesarean when she needed one.

It said women in many developing countries were not as fortunate, and could have long labours which ended in still-birth and severe damage to the birth canal.


Seven months pregnant

When she was seven months pregnant, Claire, who works as a recruitment training officer for a firm of solicitors, said: "My husband and I haven't found out the sex of our new baby.

"We want it to be a surprise. We don't mind whether it's a boy or a girl, as long as he or she is healthy."

Claire will stop working four weeks before her due date, making final preparations before the birth.

She says she has read many articles on giving birth and is receiving lots of advice and support from her mother.

"My husband has also been great. He helps me with the weekly shopping and collects me from work in the car so I don't have to use public transport."


Five months pregnant

"We live just 10 minutes drive from Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital and two minutes walk from the local health centre.

Claire Roche
Claire did not want to know the sex of her baby before it was born

"In the first five months of my pregnancy, I've had six ultrasound scans."

In industrialised countries antenatal coverage is extremely high, with 98% of women having at least one antenatal visit.

The UK also has a very high rate of attended births, with skilled attendants present at 99% of deliveries. The WHO says every woman is entitled to that level of care.

The UK has a very low risk of maternal death, with a woman's risk of maternal death is just one in 3,800 women. However, other industrialised countries have even lower rates.

In Sweden, just over one in 29,800 women die in pregnancy and childbirth.


Where the women live


Photos courtesy of the World Health Organization.


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