Drama at maternity wards

HARARE - With faces twisted in pain and hands thrown on their distended bellies, heavily pregnant women slowly trickle into a maternity clinic in the bustling suburb of Mbare for their last journey to bringing new life to earth.

The emotion is high from the expecting mothers — some of them giving birth and feeling the pain for the first time — to fathers and relatives who are readying to welcome the newly-born baby in the family.

The preparation for the delivery had been going for weeks — buying all the necessary clothing for the baby and the entire juju that women are persuaded to drink so they have a safe delivery.

Life styles in families drastically change when you have a pregnant wife, mother or sister in the house. The meat you used to eat is banned in the house. She hates the smell of fish, fried eggs and beer! Others hate their husbands, uncles and aunts, and there can be serious fracas in the home, unfortunately over small matters.

But today, the pregnant woman has had enough of the hate and decides it is time to spill this “thing” that has changed her life completely. She has come to Edith Opperman (EO) Maternity wing in Mbare where she is booked to give delivery.

The labour ward has been described by some as the “mad house” as the battle to deliver life rages on. Some of the expecting mothers scream loud in pain, bite their tongues while others soil their pants as they go through the “hell of a time” aptly called labour.

The grim facts, that for every 100 000 pregnant women 525 are likely to die giving birth or six weeks after bringing their babies into the world, is not lost among staff at the Edith Opperman (EO) Maternity wing in Mbare.

The Daily News on Sunday crew recently visited the busy clinic to witness first-hand, the drama that comes with pregnant mothers during their deliveries.

While there are strict rules at the clinic, some are relaxed.

These women in apparent pain are allowed to use three entrances and they seem familiar with the entrance set up.

“We take them through the drills when they come to book. We teach them how to ring the bell for attention at night,” explains sister Atlanta Mbiri, a reproductive health officer for the City of Harare.

The moment the pregnant women enter the waiting ward, it is like they have entered a house of the “tolerant friends”.

Ndaakufa maiwe!” shouts Miriam as she kneels beside her bed clutching at her big tummy while just in front of her, a mother who has just given birth promises her joy and light that is found at the other side of pain. She comforts Miriam: “Shingirirai, zvinoita manje manje. Hamufe, neniwo ndaitofungawo ndichafa.” (You have to be strong, the pain will not kill you, it will be OK soon).

Our appearance into the waiting ward visibly annoys the expecting mothers and they wave us by.

As mothers wait, their heart rates and those of the soon-to-pop-out babies are constantly monitored roughly at 15 minute intervals. If the baby’s heart rate is too fast or too slow, the doctor may decide to deliver by caesarean section.

A mid-wife shouts from another bed; “push-push” as she steers a mother to give birth.

Yet another woman lies in a semi-upright position wincing in pain as a midwife with surgical precision stitches her torn vagina, almost ignoring the screaming newly-born baby who looks pink.

There are two beds on each side of the emergency drug storeroom — one in the room we are in is empty — but a few moments later a woman appears from the waiting ward screaming “mwana akuuya mbuya”(the baby is coming nurse).

And the first question she is asked is “wanwei? (What did you drink?).  “Tea, tea yauya nagogo.” The midwife quickly orders her to the empty bed while she summons her colleague to attend to her as she finishes with the first one.

Sekuru kani, sekuru uuuuuhhhhh” wailed the woman. In less than three minutes I saw the shoulders and with a great slippery rush, the rest of the body was delivered, the umbilical cord cut and clamped.

Unlike the first, her baby remains uncomfortably quite, pale and whitish in complexion.

With the calm of a true midwife, after a few minutes and with the help of another midwife, the baby is successfully resuscitated and hurried to Harare Hospital.

During labour, your cervix will stretch from 0cm to a fully dilated 10cm. During a vaginal exam, cervix dilation is measured by how many finger widths fit into the opening of the cervix.

If the tip of one finger fits, the cervix is 1cm dilated. If two finger tips fit, that signifies 2cm. The distance the two fingers can stretch wide indicates further dilation.

An average of 10cm opening of the vagina is ideal for delivery and it takes at least two hours to move per cm — but the crew discovered that the woman —only 15 minutes before — was at 4cm and the tea contained some “mudzi”(traditional herbs).

A woman who had just given birth said: “Delivering the natural way is the best way. All you need to care about are the follow up visits for the baby.”

Despite having suffered all that pain during natural delivery, induced or through caesarean — the fact is they still normally come back.

“This is my second baby. I remember the first pregnancy; pandairwadziwa ndaiti chimurume chiye hachindibate futi. Now I know better that I will have four kids,” said youthful Chenai Kanyai.

Comments (6)

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Kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk crazy journo, you are good at your writing I appreciate it, very detailed. Asi wakambobva neko kani. Otherwise great stuff.

tindo - 30 June 2014

is giving birth drama?

me - 30 June 2014

I don't like the tone of this story...rather sadistic

Ini - 30 June 2014

It`s sad that Wendy refered to such anguish as DRAMA and on the other hand, rightfully mentioning that many women die during and just after child birth. Where are we harding to as Zimbos? The expressions in your story indicates kuti waitoseka handiti, vamwe vachitambura, vamwe vachifa. Zvimwechetezvo nemaNurse acho, havana hanya nevakadzi vanosununguka. Zvawakaona izvi zvinofanirwa kushitwa kuMinistry of Health chipatara ichi chiwongororwe. Ndinoshamiswa nevanhu vakaita sewe. Rega ndigumire ipapa.

bln - 30 June 2014

tindo! unofanirwa kunge uri nesi nekuti zvinokusekesa zvinoshungurudza

bln - 30 June 2014

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