Every Tuesday and Thursday is ante-natal clinic at the hospital. Hoards of pregnant moms waddle in from who knows how many miles away to get assessed and screened for malaria/typhoid/missing vaccines etc. One by one they come into the small room packed with a dozen people (midwifes, nursing students, doctors, other moms) and lay down to get their belly measured and to see their babies fluttering heart rate show up on the monitor. When they climb down from the table, they are squished on a bench along one wall where they wait to speak to the physician who sits at a small desk in the same room. There is very little patient privacy here. At some point during the flow a midwife will address the pregnant moms, all with various sized protruding bellies, and explain what to expect when they come to deliver:
First, make sure to bring your own sheets for your hospital bed.
Also, bring your own blankets for the baby, along with your own basin and soap to give yourself and your baby a bath. The women listen attentively, occasionally wiping the sweat off their forehead. The room heats up quickly with no air conditioning and many bodies moving about. We give more reminders to use mosquito nets at night because a bad case of malaria during pregnancy can be a death sentence for mom and baby. Each mother gets a dose of de-worming medication, malaria prevention tablets, and is sent to the pharmacy to get prenatal vitamins. Then we call the next waddling mother inside.
Here are a few quick snap shots from the day:
A new young mom soaked up education on eating and drinking correctly while pregnant and how to safely lie down and sit up without putting too much pressure on her abdomen.
One mom quietly wiped tears from her eyes as Dr Kiden explained that her labs had come back HIV positive.
Another mom was told that her 31 week old no longer had a heartbeat and she would need to go to the ward to be induced to deliver her dead baby. Her and her husband stoically took the news and were taken up to labor ward where she delivered a few hours later.
But as always, a lot of precious new babies are born healthy and strong in the Labor ward each day!
Hand embroidered sheets are the most common sheets brought by the ladies for their stay in the hospital. Beautiful!