As a new parent, witnessing a baby’s first minute of life is perhaps the most profound and emotional experience possible. I have been lucky enough to have enjoyed this moment twice.
My children are now 15 and 18, but I still remember the initial relief and happiness I felt upon hearing their first cries.
Every new mom should be able to hear that beautiful sound immediately after her baby is born. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case for millions of moms around the world each year.
Birth asphyxia, or inability to breathe at birth, is the leading cause of neonatal mortality worldwide. In fact, 1 in 10 babies have difficulty breathing at birth.
Yet many of these deaths could be prevented using a fairly simple medical procedure known as neonatal resuscitation—it’s just a matter of ensuring that healthcare providers are trained to perform this technique.
Ten Years of Transforming Lives in China
That’s why I was so proud last week to participate in festivities celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP) in China—a landmark public-private partnership between Johnson & Johnson, the Chinese Ministry of Health and professional associations based in China and the U.S.
The program, also known as “Freedom of Breath, Fountain of Life,” is designed to ensure that at least one person trained and skilled in neonatal resuscitation is present at every hospital delivery. Over the past decade, this hands-on training initiative has helped to save an estimated 150,000 newborn lives.
Many moms and healthcare providers have had their lives transformed by the program. Lingyun Wang, a midwife from Shanxi province in western China, told us that she used to blame herself for not being able to save babies who were having trouble breathing.
“I am much more confident now,” she said. “It brings me so much joy every time I help a baby.”
More Healthy Babies and Happy Moms
China’s NRP program has already made a big impact—but there’s more to come.
Johnson & Johnson has just announced our next five-year commitment to this initiative, providing ongoing support so that more doctors and nurses can master the techniques needed to ensure that babies can take their first breaths. The program will continue to reach out to all types of hospitals—from major cities to remote locations—so that it can generate the biggest impact possible throughout the country.
It is estimated that the program will save 15,000 lives each year, and help as many as 600,000 newborns have a healthy start to life.
And the NRP program is just one of the many ways that Johnson & Johnson is working to ensure that moms and babies in China have the help they need throughout pregnancy, childbirth and the first months of life.
For example, for more than 20 years, Johnson & Johnson has supported a neonatal baby “touch” program designed to foster the mother-baby bond through the power of skin-to-skin contact. More than 60,000 healthcare professionals have been trained in touch techniques, and more than 11 million moms have benefitted from the program.
And the Mom-Baby Messenger program provides expectant and new moms from rural locations in China with text messages that offer the vital health information needed to better care for themselves and their babies.
Today, as I see my two children excelling in school and preparing to begin their adult lives, I realize how fortunate I have been to experience the motherhood journey.
For thousands of moms in China, programs supported by Johnson & Johnson have been—and will continue to be—valuable steps in their own exciting journeys.
Ellie Xie is President of Johnson & Johnson Consumer China Ltd. and oversees the company’s consumer brands in the country.