Monday, February 22, 2016

Mama and Baby Care

After all the excitement over Yeshi’s birth, Laura asked a few questions about what is common prenatal care and post follow up. 

It can’t be overstated that Ethiopia is a VERY diverse country. Even within the same people group, there are different practices based on if the mother is from the city (i.e. Addis Ababa or some other big city, in our area Bahir Dar), town (i.e. Injibara) the countryside near the main road (where we live) or people who live deep in the countryside. 

We live among the Awi or Agew people who have become very close in culture to the Amhara people. 

In our context, countryside but near the main road, women would typically not visit a clinic while they are pregnant. The pregnancy is kept secret as long as possible and when it can no longer be secret, the woman stays near home and you don’t address or call attention to the pregnancy. There is much belief in a spiritual “evil eye” or “Buda” that has influenced many of the traditions among our friends. 

This sweet 10 month-old and his mama.

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In our immediate area, women have their babies in their homes surrounding by other women of the family. There is now a push along the main road to get woman in labor to the clinic in town.  Among the younger women, this seems to be happening, although when talking to a father of six, when I asked if his wife went into a clinic, it made him laugh at how preposterous that would have been. Along the main road area, If things go poorly, they definitely try to go into a clinic. Most public transport will not pick up a women who is obviously in labor, so this leaves a few options,

Option 1) Call the ambulance. Yes, we have an ambulance. It is a Landcruiser with a red cross on the side. It’s main purpose is to transport people to clinics, though I am unsure if anyone medical is on board. However, the ambulance could be very far or already occupied and to this point, it has not proved super-consistent.

Option 2) hire a local bajaj, these are small three-wheeled, covered motorcyclish things.

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(Photo Cred to Samantha)

Option 3) If we or our teammates are here, we can give rides to women in labor. This has been a service our teammates, Mark and Debbie have provided for the community and we continue with them. 

We have had women arrive in distress on litters, carried for hours on the shoulders of four men. This would be an example of a troubled deep countryside labor.

As I understand it, the women in labor often don’t make a sound. When someone does, she is told to stop. Women here are little, beautiful and TOUGH.

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(Photo Cred to Samantha)

A friend of our family remembers, as a toddler that his mother was sweating, preparing items and seemed tense. She didn’t make a sound as she boiled water, got a razor and then he heard nothing until his baby brother was born on the dirt floor and cried. His mother was alone as labor came suddenly on a market day and no one was around. He watched her cut the umbilical cord and he had a sibling. It was the first he knew of it. 

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(Photo Cred to Samantha)

A mother from town may have a follow-up appointment but more likely is told, “Come back if you or the baby is sick”. A woman from the countryside would only go back to the clinic if someone was extremely unwell. 



This family is obviously of a younger generation as they both smiled for pictures and the husband sat close to his wife, even putting his arm around her in the presence of others. 


leah said...

oh my word. TOUGH is right!

sarah.flyingkites said...

Ok, it's official. I'm the biggest wimp ever!

Wow, thanks so much for sharing this post. Very interesting!