12 August 2016

How I delivered my baby by myself

Fortune favours the brave, so, they say, but for Hamba Salama, that October night on which she gave birth, meant she had to endure pain and multi-task as she delivered her baby without help.

As the clock ticked into the midnight hour, the labour pains intensified. Her nine children were asleep and on that night, her husband had slept at the co-wife’s house. In the moment, she had to think fast.

Despite the pain, she slowly got off her bed and went to get her Mama Kit which, as she recounts, had been given to her by health workers during her last antenatal visit to Nakwasi Health Centre III, in Butaleja, a district in Eastern Uganda bordering Tororo and Mbale.
“It was my saviour on that night. I had planned to give birth at the health centre but when my ‘waters broke’, I knew I could not make it there. In the kit, there was everything I needed to help myself during delivery,” Salama narrates as she breastfeeds nine-month-old Mwajuma Nangale, the girl she delivered that night.

Patricia Asekenye, an enrolled midwife at Bubalya Health Centre III explains that
the kit has gloves necessary during delivery, cotton for cleaning and padding the mother, gauze used for cleaning, cord ligature for tying the cord, a razor blade for cutting the cord, tetracycline eye ointment to apply on baby’s eyes when they are born, mackintosh put on the bed before mother is laid on it, soap for washing up, and sanitary pads.

Before she could push out and deliver her baby, the resident of Kabugoli village had to unpack her Mama Kid. She got a polythene bag which she lay on the bed. This helped on containing the blood when she delivered the baby. She then lay another polythene bag on a blanket where she placed the baby before she went on to get a blade to cut the cord. She was all by herself.

She had to pad herself. She got cotton to clean herself. The baby had started crying and it is at that point that her other children woke up to share in the joy that was still a painful experience to their mother. It was past 2am.

One of Salama’s sons ran out to get one of the neighbours to go help his mother. The neighbour helped her tie the baby’s cord to stop profuse bleeding.

She adds, “For my previous nine children, I did not use a Mama kit. I would give birth and place the children on a blanket, which would sometimes cause them skin irritation but with the Mama Kit, I have all tools I need to ease giving birth.”

Salama had noticed an unusual swelling early during her pregnancy which prompted her to rush to the health facility for advice. The midwife explained to her that her cervix had descended due to the previous multiple deliveries hence causing a threat to her life. “I was so scared that I made sure I did as the mid wife advised. I attended all the four antenatal visits”.

Nangale is Salama’s tenth child. She is a mother to five daughters and five sons. She calls upon expectant mothers to come for antenatal visits so that they can get vital information and materials like kits which helped her give birth in the event when she could not make it to the health facility.

“I had planned to go to the hospital to give birth but unfortunately, I had to give birth at home and by myself in a clean and safe way,” the 37-year-old mother narrates, adding that her husband, Kulaira Hiire, only got to know she had given birth the next day.

Asked about her thoughts on Family Planning practices, Salama says whenever she had tried to attend Family Planning talks, other women tease her that if she doesn’t continue give birth, her back will pain.

She is the breadwinner. She grows sorghum, millet, cassava and beans for subsistence purposes. For a source of livelihood, she offers labour on people’s farming land for a wage. She saves the earnings to support her children in school, giving them what she never got since she stopped in Primary Six.

She says she never went far in school because her father and mother never saw the relevance of educating her since they were not educated either. She got married at 16.

The Mama Kit initiative


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