Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Birth in Uganda

As I massaged a woman in labor at the clinic today, the words "Musawa, musawa, (nurse,nurse)" began to sink into my consciousness. Someone was calling from down the hall. I ran to the delivery room to see another young woman climbing onto the delivery table. When she spread her legs, a baby's head was emerging. I had gloves in my pocket luckily since the clinic's box of gloves had been emptied earlier and not replaced. As I put them on, preparing to help catch this baby, the midwife came in. Pushing her knees together and telling her to Close her Legs, and began to don his own pair of sterile gloves and prepare instruments for delivery. He did not have time though. The baby emerged, without any extra help from him... Perhaps a thankful thing, as it seems that many women, especially first time mothers, end up with a large episiotomy as well as possibly a laceration on top of it. This in turn results in a 1-2 hour repair, usually without adequate lidocaine to numb the tissue for the procedure. I'm convinced that the repairs after birth, are more painful than the birth itself, as that is when many women can no longer hold in their sobs and screeches, as is expected of them during labor.

Meanwhile, the first woman labored for many more hours, begging me not to leave her. The massage was helping her so much, she said, and "no one else can do it right". A massage to my own ego that then encouraged me to go beyond my own energetic capability after a recent back injury. It was 8 pm, 11 hours later, after two hours of holding my flashlights aimed at her bottom, so that the midwife could stitch her up, that I finally went home.

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