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Hubby turns midwife, assists wife to give birth after going into labour at home

by Staff reporter
11 Feb 2022 at 05:35hrs | Views
THE role of husbands in maternal health is often overlooked by health programmes in developing countries like Zimbabwe.

The amazing story of Thomas Tiyatara from Mahatshula North suburb in Bulawayo is, however, a stark demonstration that men should also be involved in reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health practices.

Though his story is little known, it is a story of how ambulance delays in responding to emergencies can cause one who is not a medical professional to gather courage and assist in delivery to make childbirth not life-threatening both for mother and child.

And a delayed referral to a health facility due to unavailability of transport can cause many women that have maternal complications to die during childbirth or in transit to referral hospitals.

Tiyatara (38) earned praise from his suburb after helping his pregnant wife Samukeliso Moyo (21) deliver her baby boy at their home on Friday (February 4) last week. The baby boy was born healthy and his father said he was "very calm, and very peaceful".

Tiyatara said he decided to convert their rented room into a temporary maternity unit to help his wife who had gone into labour after an ambulance failed to make it to their home in time.

Investigations by B-Metro established that many women in labour arrive at health facilities late after attempting home deliveries because of a severe shortage of ambulances which resulted in the crippling of health services delivery by urban local authorities with the decline accelerating during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Lack of adequate qualified health professionals is another factor.

A case in point is that of Bulawayo City Council (BCC) where ambulance shortages have also made it difficult to transfer especially difficult cases to referral hospitals such as Mpilo Central Hospital.

According to a recent report, so severe is the problem of emergency vehicles inclusive of ambulances which have resulted in the closure of Nkulumane Fire Station.

Recounting his joy Tiyatara said his wife developed labour pains at around 11PM and he assisted her to deliver the baby at about 1AM.

"When she woke me up at around 11pm saying she was feeling ‘a little bit uncomfortable', I just thought they were normal pains. I became scared when the labour pains worsened and that is when I called an ambulance. It was pretty surreal," said Tiyatara.

Faced with a determined baby, the couple had to improvise.

"While waiting for an ambulance to arrive I got her into position using blankets to create a steady surface, like the back seat of a car while making sure she is as comfortable as possible. While she was writhing in agony the baby started coming out and I panicked when I saw the baby's head. I, however, gathered courage and quickly reached over with my hands and caught the baby," said Tiyatara.

He said despite the fact that his wife was in pain she instructed him not to pull on the baby's head or body.

"After the baby came, I didn't cut or pull on the umbilical cord. I just placed it next to the baby until an ambulance arrived. The ambulance arrived two hours later to provide assistance and the paramedics took my wife and the baby to North End Clinic where they received further medical care," said Tiyatara.

He adds: "Her delivery was quick, like 30 to 45 minutes and was followed by "screaming and the familiar cry of the baby". Samukeliso, who could not hide her joy, said when she went into labour with her second child at home, her husband was so scared.

"He just handled the whole thing alone. It was, like, the most impressive thing I've ever seen. I feel loved and honoured and it was a perfect way to welcome our new baby boy into the world. It was a remarkable moment indeed," said Samukeliso. In honour of her husband's efforts, they decided to name the baby Thomas Tiyatara Junior.

"The best part of the story is that he decided to name the baby after him," she said. The couple is grateful that there were no post-natal complications that required medical intervention.

Meanwhile, research has shown that although the Ministry of Health and Child Care advises women to give birth in health facilities, demographic data indicates that nearly one quarter of women give birth without skilled assistance due to cultural preferences, religious beliefs, economic constraints, lack of decision-making power and fears of poor care from the formal health system.

Unskilled persons, such as untrained traditional birth attendants, village health workers, relatives and friends assist in 20 percent of births, while three percent of births receive no assistance.

Some women raised the fear of being shamed by health professionals and a concern over the lack of privacy and confidentiality among health care workers as other reasons for staying away from the formal health system.

Source - B-Metro
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