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Silent struggles of mothers after experiencing stillbirth

WHO indicates that nearly two million stillbirths are recorded every year, one each 16 seconds. Forty per cent of all stillbirths occur during labour.

Story Highlights
  • As women who have gone through stillbirth struggle to deal with their loss, some recently took advantage of Facebook group to pour their hearts out just to help ease their pain.  
  • For instance the USAID-funded Health Policy Project that provides technical support to the Ministry of Health in initial analysis of the resources needed for the proposed policy to allow for it to be adopted and financed.

Every expectant mother looks forward to the day they will hold their baby.

So when the unexpected happens and they lose the pregnancy, they are thrown into emotional turmoil, nursing not only physical wounds but emotional ones too.

With most not knowing where to turn for help or even the kind of help they need to deal with the loss, it often drives them to depression or outbursts, taking their anger out on other people.

Such is the struggle that mothers who have had a stillbirth go through.

WHO indicates that nearly two million stillbirths are recorded every year, one each 16 seconds. Forty per cent of all stillbirths occur during labour.

This is a loss that could be avoided with quality health care during childbirth, including routine monitoring and timely access to emergency obstetric care when required.

As women who have gone through stillbirth struggle to deal with their loss, some recently took advantage of Facebook group to pour their hearts out just to help ease their pain.

One woman’s question opened a can of worms on how women are struggling to deal with their loss without proper care from health institutions.

“I gave birth to a dead baby. He died in the womb. Can I resume work immediately because I am so stressed while I am home and I keep crying a lot?  I want to be busy,” Queen Akoth* says.

“What can kill a baby at six months? I asked the question at the hospital and I was told “Ulikuja na yeye kama amekufa“… according to the scan he died two days ago.”

A lady know as Jacky Atieno* says dealing with stillbirth is tough.

“I lost my son at 34 weeks in January this year despite having a normal and healthy pregnancy. I noticed he stopped moving for about five hours and went to hospital only for no heartbeat to be detected,” she said.

Jacky says her world came to an end since there were no warning signs at all.

“We only realised he had a true knot, that is, the cord wrapped severally around his feet, when he was born.  If only we arrived earlier at the hospital, the baby would have been saved,” she says.

ECLAMPSIA

Rhoda* says her baby died out of a condition known as eclampsia.

“I knew two days later…l have never forgotten the one night I spent with a dead foetus in my uterus . I cried the whole night,” she says.

“I went back to work after one and a half months! I was easily irritated, I developed ulcers, I had abdominal cysts (I think it was because the CS wound hadn’t healed well). Thankfully an elderly lady sat me down through my pain and I sought treatment for my maladies.”

User Mercy* says she had a stillbirth in 2018 when her baby died of preeclampsia.

“..that is pregnancy induced high blood pressure…I was six months pregnant and unknowingly, I had blood pressure that wasn’t easy to control. Later it turned out to be preeclampsia which was life threatening to me,” she says.

Mercy stayed in hospital for three weeks, bed rest being monitored constantly. Later the baby’s growth also started slowing.

“They (doctors) discovered that I also had HELLP syndrome. I delivered my baby boy sleeping, a very traumatic experience. I feel your pain,” she says.

HELLP is a syndrome characterised by thrombocytopenia, haemolytic anaemia, and liver dysfunction.

CONCERTED EFFORT

Basic emergency obstetrics and neonatal care doctor at Marie Stopes David Kowegi says eradicating stillbirths should be a concerted effort between mothers and caregivers.

“Women are encouraged to attend antenatal clinics as soon as they learn that they are expectant, which should be at least three visits, this helps in averting any complications,” he said.

“Through the visits, women are empowered with good knowledge of key danger signs during pregnancy.”

He said avoidance of birth loss begins with prevention during the pre-birth/antenatal care visits where thorough screening is done and mothers put on preventive care.

“Not only having skilled and competent personnel is key but also having the right and functional equipment during antenatal and delivery,” he said.

POLICIES 

Kowegi said the government has introduced and ensured health financing policies are implemented such as the Linda Mama.

This has made the delivery in public hospitals and key selected private hospitals affordable to all including the underserved communities.

“The maternal health space is one that requires a concerted effort from the stakeholders and policymakers,” he said.

“I believe policies that support affordable and referral mechanisms at subcounty levels like ensuring there are enough, well maintained and reliable ambulances for emergency referrals can be embraced.”

He said the government has a health policy that allows NGOs to offer their support as well.

For instance the USAID-funded Health Policy Project that provides technical support to the Ministry of Health in initial analysis of the resources needed for the proposed policy to allow for it to be adopted and financed.

Via
Nancy Agutu
Source
The Star

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