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Hopkins Program Reaches Out To Pregnant Refugees
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June 13, 2011
“So what is family planning?” [Giggles…]
It doesn’t matter who you are. Any discussion involving sex is bound to elicit a few giggles. And no wonder—these six women have never done anything like this before. They’re refugees who recently arrived in the U.S…. and they’re either pregnant or have recently given birth. The discussion is the fruits of a partnership between the International Rescue Committee, or I-R-C, in Baltimore and Johns Hopkins’ nursing school. Pregnant refugees pair up with nursing students like Ashly Higgins. Today, she’s talking to these women about birth control. But she answers all sorts of questions the women have about having a baby in America.
“One of my favorite questions from last week was around a thermometer. Their doctor in the hospital had given them a temperature, and told them the baby’s temperature was 98 degrees. They came home and baby’s temperature was 37 degrees. And not being aware that temperature could read in Fahrenheit and Celsius.”
These women are all from Burma. Frances Tinsley is the executive director of the IRC in Baltimore. She says some refugees don’t reveal they’re pregnant because they’re worried it will delay their move to the U.S.
“Those who are pregnant before they come, depending on how far along, can’t come because they can’t fly. And we’re talking half-way across the world. Some don’t say they’re pregnant, they’re afraid it will stop them from coming. So, they take it upon themselves, and as soon as they hit we found out they’re pregnant.”
These women are all legally living in the U.S. They fled political and ethnic persecution in Burma, and ended up living in camps in countries like Malaysia. That’s where 34-year-old Nang Cing had her first two kids. Cing arrived in America last November. She’s pregnant with her third child, due in July.
“I’m not sure if I’ll be having another C-section. I’ve been told that because I’ve already had two, I’ll have to have another one, but I’m not sure.”
Cing says she had C-sections with her first two babies, and has been told that she might have to have another. She also has gestational diabetes. And this is where the partnership comes in. The IRC helps Cing choose a hospital and secure a crib, while Hopkins nursing student Jamie Hatcher checks in on Cing at her apartment in Arbutus.
“How are you feeling today?”
A translator assists over Hatcher’s phone.
“I was given strips at the beginning and a prescription, but they were expensive at the pharmacy. So, I asked for cheaper strips from Wal-Mart and they don’t fit in the meter. It’s not working.”
After a bit of prodding, Nang explains she wasn’t able to test her blood the night before because she can’t get the strips to fit in the meter that will read her sugar level. Hatcher tells Cing to bring the meter and strips to her doctor’s appointment later that day so that the strips can be replaced. It’s a small bit of troubleshooting intended to help a pregnancy go that much smoother for one of the country’s newest citizens.
I'm Sarah Richards, reporting in Baltimore, for 88-1 WYPR.
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