Putali Gurung from Uhiya Village Development Committee (VDC) talks about the difficult birth of her first child:
My name is Putali Gurung from ward number 7 of remote Uhiya VDC. I am 23 years old and I was not well educated about basic health services provided by our government. This was was my first pregnancy and I was very fearful as to whether I would be able to deliver a baby or not. However, I was also eager and happy to have a child!
One fine day during Falgun [the eleventh month in the Nepali calendar, marking the arrival of spring], I felt a pain inside me and thought it might be labour pains. I was scared and felt too shy to tell anyone in my home—although some of my female neighbours noticed and asked me about it. Finally, I told my family about the pain and they quickly agreed that I was having labour pains!
My family started preparing for my delivery. Time passed slowly and I was suffering a lot. All of my female neighbours tried to help me to have a normal delivery, but it just wasn’t possible. A whole day went by without any progress. The next day, the same thing happened. Everybody encouraged me but I couldn’t do it. My husband arranged for some shamans to visit and they sacrificed some cockerels. Yet, I was still suffering from a lot of pain. I tried hard to push but nothing happened.
On the third morning, a girl came to my home with a neighbour and introduced herself. She said that her name was Indira and that she worked for an organization called PHASE Nepal. Indra is an Auxillary Nurse Midwife (ANM) and she does a lot of work educating women about maternal health.
There weren’t any government health staff at the nearby sub-health post so Indra called the office assistant and asked him to bring some equipment. She then began a check-up and said that everything seemed normal however, since it was my third day in labour, she suggested that there may be complications and that I should go to the Machhaakhola birthing centre – but, my husband and the neighbours didn’t listen to her, instead they brought a shaman to the house to sacrifice another cockerel.
My family started to press my stomach here, there and everywhere but Indira advised everyone not to. She told them that it hurt me and could injure the baby. She strongly advised my family and neighbours that I should be allowed to go to Machhakhola where there were trained ANMs and Health Assistants who could help with my delivery. She stressed that it was important for my safety and that of my child. She also talked us through a lot of health related information and spoke about the importance of antenatal care (ANC) check-ups and various medicines for mothers and children. It was the first time that I had heard about ANC check-ups for pregnant women. I learnt that if I’d had a check-up during pregnancy then I could have understood more about my health and that of my baby.
As Indira was talking I remembered that, two years ago, there was a women in a similar situation to me in this village. She had complications during childbirth and, sadly, she died. I felt that it was a good idea for me to go to Machhakhola and later, after about two hours, Indira finally convinced my husband.
The journey to Machhakhola was not easy as the hills were steep and dangerous. However, my husband and some neighbours managed to carry me all the way on a stretcher. Unfortunately, in Machhakhola, there weren’t any ANMs. We met a Health Assistant from the birthing centre and some other PHASE Nepal staff who stayed with me overnight. I continued to try to give birth but still nothing happened. My pain was increasing a lot and I felt like I was dying.
Since nothing was happening and my situation was extremely complex, the staff at Machhakhola called Gorkha hospital and arranged to take me there. A member of staff from PHASE Nepal, Hem Maya Sunuwar, arranged the entire journey. I was in a lot of pain, yet the PHASE staff gave me a strong sense of hope. On the way to Gorkha, I kept trying to give birth but nothing happened. On the evening of the fourth day we arrived at the hospital in Gorkha and I finally gave birth.
On the way to Gorkha Hema took good care of me. She was really helpful – I am always happy to say that PHASE provides the best care!