Today has been a very full and busy day, but a very fulfilling one. We started by watching a short running competition, where runners were competing to go to Japan. It was such a great honor to be able to give out the prizes to the two women who are moving on to Japan. Monica, Niklas, Carolina, Dedan and I went to the Ngong slum area, where we met with many different mothers, and their babies, and also pregnant mothers. We wanted to meet them to hear their experiences and understand more their struggles. The first woman we met is eight months pregnant and 26 years old. She was married, but her husband passed away three months ago in a road accident, so she is a single mother raising her seven-year-old son, and soon to be newborn baby. We asked her what her birth plan was, and she said she hopes to deliver at the hospital in Nairobi. She delivered her first born child at home on the floor, as she couldn’t afford the hospital fee or transportation.
We were guided through the Ngong slum area by Mama Marion. She is the mother of seven girls and gave birth to six of them at home. She only gave birth to one girl at hospital as she had complications during the birth. She rents a small one room “apartment”, where her and her daughters, plus her grandson live together. They are an amazing group of women and girls, as it is only the mother and her eldest daughter who support the family financially, as her husband left due to family disputes. This family of women and girls was very inspiring to me, that they continue to support each other and care for one another, despite all hardships they face.
The next woman we met had a one-month old baby, and it was her fourth born child. She was 24 years old and gave birth at home as she also couldn’t afford to give birth in a hospital or the transportation cost. This birth went quite smooth as she knew what to expect, and it was her fourth child. Both the baby and the mother are healthy. There is no mid-wife in the village that can come and assist with births. We learned that when a mother goes into labor, they tell a next-door-neighbor, and then an older woman, or a woman who has previously given birth, comes to help the woman with birth. They have no medical background but have some experience and help the mother.
We went on to meet an expecting mother who is 5 months pregnant. She is due in February and has not yet been checked by anyone concerning her baby. We learned that it is up to the mother to choose when her control (prenatal care) starts. She fortunately was able to give birth in the hospital with her first child and hopes to also do the same with her expecting baby.
It was very nice to meet the next woman who had a three-month old baby. It was her first born, and she delivered at home. She went into labor, and was helped by another neighbor woman, as she called to say she was in labor. She had some complications during the birth as the baby got stuck during delivery. She told us that she was very scared to give birth at home, as she thought something would go wrong and she would lose the baby. Happily, they both survived, and are healthy today. As we spoke further, it came to our attention that in this country, it is taboo to speak about sex, sexual health, pregnancy and birth. Many of the knowledge is not passed down to the children, and it is not learned in the school system. The reason why it is not talked about, is because they are scared that they will scare the children, or that then the children will think things afterwards. This mother who recently gave birth, said she only learned during her pregnancy about birth, and the changes a woman goes through when pregnant. Only at this time is it acceptable to talk about pregnancy and birth with other women, when you are pregnant yourself. This really reinforced the idea and reason behind why at the Kenswed Maternity & Health Center we will offer education, group talks, and information for all concerning all topics, as education is so important when it comes to health and birth.
I feel so inspired by all of the amazing women I met today. Woman after woman that we met today, I realized how strong willed, determined, and fearless they can be. So many times, we realized that they have no other choice but to deliver at home. Even when they deliver at home, the women come together and are there for each other. It makes me feel proud and inspired as a woman.
Lööf Foundation representative