Dangerous Delivery

Yesterday we had a lot of rain. It was steady for about three hours in the afternoon and started again in the evening. It seemed strong to me, but Suzy assured me there will be storms that are a lot worse.

Last night I walked over to the clinic for something and Margaret called me in to look at something. A mother in labor had just arrived. Margaret wanted to show me what happens when a home delivery goes bad. This mom had been in labor since 5:00am the previous morning. She was fully dilated and the baby’s head was really low. Now I am no birthing expert, but I could tell things were not as it should be “down there.” It was extremely swollen. Most women choose to give birth at home with the assistance of a TBA (traditional birth attendant). TBAs get paid 100 Sudanese pounds if the baby is a boy and 150 if it is a girl. Because they get paid well, they don’t want women to deliver at a hospital. They are very hesitant to release the mother because then they won’t get paid. Most of the TBAs have no training. As a result, the infant mortality rate is very high. Last week, a perfectly healthy baby was brought to the clinic immediately after the home delivery. It was already dead because the TBA did not tie the cord and the baby bled to death. It was the same TBA who came with the mother last night. She should have known after a few hours of pushing there was a problem. Instead she waited more than 36 hours to bring the mother in. We had a whole bunch of people in there trying to help this poor woman. It was her first baby so she had no idea what was going on and that this was abnormal. Margaret, Priscila, Garrett (a visitor from the US), Pritty (our new pharmacist), Hargins and I were all trying to help. She was so tired we had to hold her legs up for her. After pushing for a while, the baby did not budge. She was given medicine to help the uterus contract, but after a while, the contractions completely stopped. Additionally, the baby’s heart rate was irregular. At that point, there was nothing we could do for her. She needed to go to a hospital right away. We told the family to make arrangements for her to go to Wau. Had she come in yesterday, she could have gone to Wau in our car that left in the morning. Due to the rain, she was not able to travel at night. Fortunately our car went back to Wau today so we were able to send her to the hospital.

Please pray for the mother and the baby. I will keep you updated on her status