Picture a pregnant teenager going “behind the house” with an untrained birth attendant as her labor pains intensify. She doesn’t have medical assistance because she’s either too poor or lives in too remote an area. She doesn’t know if she’ll have a boy or a girl – she hasn’t had checkups, let alone an ultrasound – but she has been picturing the day when she would rock her tiny little baby to sleep in her arms.
Then something goes wrong. The labor goes on for days. The teen is too small for natural childbirth, or it’s a breech birth, and the attendant doesn’t know what to do to correct the baby’s position. Too often, the result is a stillborn baby and a fistula. She is leaking either urine or feces. Sometimes both. She certainly didn’t receive what she wanted.
If she’s fortunate, she has a successful fistula repair surgery. Unfortunately, it may take more than one surgery before the fistula is repaired. Sometimes complications prevent it ever being repaired. Again, she didn’t get what she wanted. But there is no return for her. Prevention, through prenatal care by trained medical staff, is the key.
This is why we have a goal to build House of Hope and Dignity, a maternity waiting home.