In Her Words is a series where mothers who give birth with us write and share their birth stories. Sharing today is Atim Dorcus, who traveled from Kampala in January to give birth at our center.
The Birth of Baby Rachel Christine
By Atim Dorcus
It took a long walk to arrive at the hospital for antenatal care. I then had to wait a long time because there were so many mothers waiting for ANC. The nurses and midwives could only spend a minute or two with you. They were often aggravated and sometimes seemed annoyed, asking unfriendly questions, shaming pregnant mothers such as, “”How is it that you come walking in here with a big belly and yet you see the population is increasing without enough for everyone?” This kind of treatment by healthcare team members puts a conflict in your mind, and makes you feel bad.
Just like a hen wanders around, looking for a soft, secure, hidden, private place to lay its eggs, you start to look around for a secure place for your safe birth, and try to escape from the unloving environment that we mothers experience in the hospitals.
Finally in the last month of my pregnancy I went back to the public hospital for ANC, and while there one of the midwives confided that they had lost three mothers the night before.
I went to the canteen to get something to eat, and told the man who worked there what I had just learned. He told me that now I am like a soldier; they go to battle, some die and others live. After this I was no longer confident about having my baby in hospital, and thought it would be better to have the baby born at home.
I had heard about the Mother Health International health centre in the north that had a different and kind approach to maternal healthcare. And in a Skype call with one of the team leaders I said I wanted to have a gentle birth. She said that I could have my baby born in their health centre with loving midwives. I could see that the health centre was a great distance from Kampala, but was soon convinced that this was an opportunity for me and my baby that I could not pass up.
I Find Mother Health Centre in Atiak
We journeyed for 7 hours on hut dusty roads to reach Mother Health International in Atiak. The moment I stepped into the birth centre, I found a woman. She was looking at me, just celebrating me. All I could see in her eyes is that she believes I am wonderful; I have made it this far; I am a mother. Silently I smile at her to show her that I am happy.
I am wondering how I can let her know about myself. Will she be one of those who takes care of me? I did not know at the time that she was just the right person to have met upon entering. I needed a midwife who would be like a mother to me! That was just the beginning. I did not know at the time that Corina, as she is called, was the very midwife who would squat with me while I delivered my baby.
I was assigned a loving midwife called Christine who would oversee my progress while I was at the health centre. While at Mother Health in Atiak I was three days before full term. I saw pregnant mothers walking in and out of the health center with their newborn babies. I admired them and also asked myself why I’m not having any signs of giving birth.
My due date arrived and passed without my having any contractions. I’m just too normal, no sickness, no pain. While the midwives reassured me, I begin to worry. How come I have no contractions, and yet my date has passed? After four days, later in the evening I felt some drops of water leaking from me. I got excited that I am about to give birth. I ran quickly to Christine who tells me that my waters have not broken, but have leaked a little. Still, I awoke in the night with regular contractions. Christine came to see me, and confirmed that I was in labour, and reported that the baby was in the posterior position which causes painful back labour. She helped with massage to improve the baby’s position.
The real meaning of labour pains knocks my head when it started at midnight. I was sure it was labour pain because my date was long past. My Jesus! this pain is unbelievable, very deadly, how shall I explain, it’s so painful. Fortunately there were intervals, pains and cooling.
In the morning I did not appear for breakfast. Midwife Rachel learned that the contractions have swallowed my body and I am drowning in the pain. I then got visited in my room by several midwives. Rachel showed Zawadi how to minimize the pain of the contractions by pressing on my lower back and buttocks, and this helped. With Christine coming in with her daily check up to give me hope of suddenly delivering, she tells me congratulations; you are three centimetres dilated. Oh my God!, I don’t have any more time for anyone, anything, any food; it’s just contractions.
So later in the evening Rachel suggests I leave my room and join other mothers in labour at the birth clinic. She also comes up with a solution for my pain whereby I get into a birthing bath filled with warm water. I went into to the birth centre, wow the birth centre is so beautiful at night! Besides, I’m not alone; other women are also in labour. The sounds of women labouring becomes like a song in the background, all of us together. I then get in the warm water bathtub which felt so wonderful, while Rachel and team continue to fill the bath with warm water.
The other mothers were giving birth while I was yet to be fully dilated. I started thinking that this was going beyond normal that I asked for pain killers. The midwives shook their heads and smiled.
After another examination Christine, announces I can begin to push when I am ready. Christine says I should walk around, to “walk the baby down”, while doing some exercise. At this point the waters had finally broken. I felt so weak and useless that I needed someone to play my part, but found no one, that person I needed was still me to save both lives. Christine and I walked around and around the birth center. I am so thankful that even the baby inside was struggling helping me in the fight. At this moment I was now surrendering my life or the life of the baby. Whoever fights hard, takes the floor. It was now between me and the baby. Time came for pushing although I was already very weak and giving up
As the midwives noticed that I needed encouragement they gave me all of their energy. Midwife Corina squatted with me on the bed, told me to put my arms on her this while I squatted with my legs wide open. She then held my chest tightly and told me to push whenever I felt contractions. It was now time for seriousness. Rachel was seated in front of me ready to receive the baby’s head, while midwife Christine was checking my pulse and listening to the babies heart beat. Student midwife Eugenia was charting and overseeing. Then Zawadi was cheering me to give me more energy and make me more active not to give up. I gained more strength of pushing between contractions until I made it to success.
I finally made it. I am a mother. I brought to life a beautiful baby girl. She was put on my chest and midwife Catherine placed towels and blankets over both of us. I was jubilating and did not mind about what next.
Rachel finds out that the baby’s cord is not connected to the placenta. They quickly tie the cord and cut it to save the baby. She was not breathing well and not crying much either. I think the contractions made her stressed since they were very long, and her lungs were not yet active. Rachel inserted some tube in her nose and sucked fluid from her lungs, while midwife Corina and Christine massaged her feet and back and that is when she started to react.
After that, I stayed breastfeeding in the birth room with the special treatment of full board catering services (meals). I was given a good bath me and the baby daily by midwife Corina who would lovingly wash both of us and give me a whole body massage everyday. I am sure that is why my belly is slender now.Ever since that day, My baby has lived happily without any health problem. We named her Rachel Christine, after our midwives. I am also very healthy. I am very thankful to the team of midwives that works like the bees.
Thanks to mother health team in Atiak.