Community Update

World Pulse Toolkits Available!

At World Pulse, we recognize the need for ongoing learning—for you and for your community! Our toolkits are all available here.

We are especially excited to share our signature Citizen Journalism and Digital Empowerment Curriculum. Start learning today!

The Sour Taste of Pregnancy in Cameroon

One day before I had my first baby

As a young woman who has had three pregnancies and is now a mother to two children, I have had my share of the deplorable conditions expectant mothers in Cameroon are subjected to. I have equally gathered much from the stories other women have shared with me and those I have heard from third parties. From going through undeserved surgeries, to facing unscrupulous medical personnel to being poorly informed and nurtured during pregnancy and delivery, there so many sour experiences when maternal health is concerned.

Last year, two of my acquaintances had Cesarean Sections (C.S) they did not require. They were a means of the private clinics where they bore their children to enrich themselves. Some private health workers in Cameroon's economic capital, Douala deceive pregnant women saying their pregnancies are complicated and they can only be delivered when the surgeon's knife comes upon them. This is a way these dupes in the cloaks of medical personnel enrich themselves. C.S normally brings in more money than a normal delivery so they had rather conduct surgeries than natural births. A documentary I watched on maternal health stipulates that Cesarean Sections are far more risky than normal deliveries. These egocentric medical practitioners put these women's lives in danger so that they can make more money off them.

A lady I met at a babies shop narrated her unfortunate birth story to me. She had gone to a government health center to give birth. In this center, employees receive compensation when a woman gives birth during their work shift. So the employees did not want to leave work that day without a woman being delivered to their benefit. Instead of allowing labor progress naturally, they quickly administered injections to speed up the process. Such injections caused her to feel excruciating pain. As if that was not enough harm, they proceeded to burst the amniotic sac. And with all this the woman still had to be operated upon, for her life and that of the baby to be saved.

Some midwives simply do not care. Labor for my first child began at night so I was rushed to the hospital at about 10 pm. The midwife in attendance was asleep when I got there. She was so unhappy because I interrupted her slumber. This made her very hostile towards me throughout that night and if not for the timely intervention of more accommodating colleagues I wonder what that delivery would have been like.

My second pregnancy ended in a miscarriage which could have been avoided if I had met committed health workers when I got to the hospital. Instead of getting me checked immediately I insisted that my situation needed urgent attention, they offered to admit me as an in-patient and keep me waiting with no care whatsoever. That was how I bled until I finally lost my second baby.

With my third pregnancy I had very poor prenatal care in the hospital where I registered: No lectures on my first visit, no conducting of essential tests and an arrogant midwife who will not explain a simple question I asked. I eventually evaded this hospital to give birth in a private clinic where the workers were more hospitable. However, when I got my bill at the end, it had been consciously inflated. I was even given a drug I never needed that caused me so much pain. When I complained about the pain, I was given 2 injections that immediately calmed me down. And I had to pay for all these drugs!

More evils exist when it comes to maternal health care in Cameroon. Mothers are not given adequate information to sustain them throughout pregnancy. Some of them loose their premature babies because they were not incubated on time. Some get infections because their after-birth tears were not stitched. Some lose their babies right after they are born because midwives are too busy (watching television in one case) to attend to them. Some bleed to death because no medication was given to control abnormal bleeding. The list is just endless.

The truth is a lot of nurses, midwives and medical doctors are not passionate about their jobs. They are more passionate about money. Pregnant women who need premium care continue to be their victims. According to a World Bank report published in 2012, as at 2010, 690 women in Cameroon died during pregnancy and childbirth per 100, 000 live births. This number can be greatly reduced if the ills plaguing maternal health are curbed.

I call on my fellow women to study intensely when they are pregnant so that they will not be fooled into Cesarean Sections. A woman, who went to give birth in a mission hospital in Douala was quickly scheduled for an operation when she had not even been examined. She got angry about this and packed her bags to another mission hospital where she had a vaginal delivery after a few hours. We need to stand up for ourselves like this woman did. Let us empower yourselves with knowledge and choose the better health institutions among the bad ones. Pregnant women carry the future generation so they need appropriate care!

Downloads

Comments

Apa yang anda ceritakan juga terjadi di negara saya. Meskipun hanya bersifat kasuistik, namun jika kasus-kasus yang bertebaran itu dikumpulkan maka jumlahnya menjadi tidak sedikit.

Saatnya perempuan memperkuat pengetahuan, saya sepakat dengan anda!

Salam hangat,
Yuliana

Precious M's picture

Dear Yuliana...

Dear Yuliana,

I do not understand your language but I really appreciate the fact that you stopped by and dropped a comment.
Thanks!

Precious

My pen speaks

Hi Precious,
Thank you for this post! I didn't know the situation in Cameroon was similar to the one here in the U.S., where medical professionals are performing unnecessary Cesareans.

Money should not be the bottom line for doctors and midwives. Like any realm in life, love should be our bottom line! Sadly, in the maternal health sector, where we see money as a bottom line, is where we see women and babies dying. This must change. We must bring the love.

Peace,
Carrie

Precious M's picture

You are right

Dear Carrie,

I am surprised to know that the same vice goes on in the United States. You are right. Love is all we need. Medical professionals need to know that it is not about the money. They should be saving lives. The real value of life is in loving others. I pray the situation gets better in my country. I went through your profile and I must say I admire your interest in midwifery.
Let's keep talking.

Very best of regards,
Precious

My pen speaks

My pen speaks

Carrie Lee's picture

Hi again Precious, Yes, the

Hi again Precious,
Yes, the same goes on here; in fact, hospital birth with interventions is very typical. It's all too common for women to be induced, to be given synthetic drugs for speeding labor, to have their membranes ruptured, to be given epidurals (upwards of 80% of women here choose epidurals (the injection for numbing the body from the waist down), and to end up with c-sections.

There is a lot of fear. And women who are ordinarily empowered in their lives, somehow hand their power over to the medical establishment when it comes to pregnancy and birth.

I'm glad to connect here, and yes, I'm very interested in maternal health issues, and advocate for gentle births and the midwifery model of care.

Warm regards,
Carrie

Precious M's picture

Because of World Pulse

Dear Carrie,

It is through World Pulse that we get to see that some of the issues we face in our society also exist in other societies. Yes, there is a lot of fear when a woman is pregnant and worse still, during labor. That is why midwives/doctors take advantage of the situation. I really think we women need to study adequately on pregnancy and childbirth so that we will understand our bodies better. In that way, we will not be in the risky situation of undergoing unneeded c-sections.

About epidurals, they are not common here in Cameroon. I have never heard about them in a hospital. I only read about them online.

It is a wonderful thing when a woman experiences a gentle birth with a caring midwife that aids her. I long to see a lot of such births.

Best regards,
Precious

My pen speaks

Precious M's picture

You are right

Dear Carrie,

I am surprised to know that the same vice goes on in the United States. You are right. Love is all we need. Medical professionals need to know that it is not about the money. They should be saving lives. The real value of life is in loving others. I pray the situation gets better in my country. I went through your profile and I must say I admire your interest in midwifery.
Let's keep talking.

Very best of regards,
Precious

My pen speaks

Carrie,

Sometimes I don't understand how certain situations even happen. In Ghana for instances, most people in midwifery are women, as well as the nurses who attend to labours. Many of these women have given birth themselves, and I'm sure they can easily appreciate the varying degrees of distress and pain a woman in labour goes through.... and yet they have these very uncaring and out-rightly demeaning attitudes!

It is understandable that some health workers work under very stressful and demanding conditions, although this in no way qualifies them to treat patients wrongly. It's even worse when health workers in comfortable conditions are still dead to the rights of the patient and simple love and sensitivity towards fellow human beings!

Betty
Maternal Health Channel
Asking questions. Seeking solutions. Saving lives

Precious M's picture

Change from Within

Dear Becky,

For the maternal health situation to be redressed, change must begin from within. By this, I mean that midwives, doctors, nurses must awaken their consciences and treat expectant mothers in love. Love is the key.

Precious

My pen speaks

Magazine »

Read global coverage through women's eyes

Letters to a Better World

Letters to a Better World

Community »

Connect with women on the ground worldwide

shazia @ shiree's picture

BANGLADESH: Finding Fatima

Campaigns »

Be heard at influential forums

WWW: Women Weave the Web

WWW: Women Weave the Web

Programs »

Help us train women citizen journalists

World Pulse Voices of Our Future

World Pulse Voices of Our Future

Blog »

Read the latest from World Pulse headquarters

The Women of World Pulse LIVE: Meet Olanike

The Women of World Pulse LIVE: Meet Olanike

Partners »

Join forces with our wide network of partners

Nobel Women's Initiative

Nobel Women's Initiative