My mom was an educated woman who always kept a dictionary within reach while reading. Yet she did not know that to have any chance at successful reattachment, my fingertip should have been kept cold. With the best of intentions, she held it in her hand to keep it at body temperature. It is doubtful it would have been reconnected anyway; it was 1961.
In Dignity:Liberia’s series In a Fistula Survivor’s Voice and in other blogs, we have shared experiences of fistula survivors regarding the misguided efforts of Traditional Tribal Midwives (TTMs) during their labor. One survivor told us that the midwife bounced on her belly in order to deliver the baby. Other TTMs have gagged their patients in an effort to increase contractions, while another survivor shared that the TTM was trying to “haul the baby out.”
Most TTMs are older women in the village, who have successfully delivered dozens, if not hundreds of babies. I believe they are caring individuals. But like my mom, they simply don’t know what to do in the case of an emergency. In a crisis, they may take a wrong action based on what seems logical to them. All too often this leads to stillbirth of the baby and an obstetric fistula for the mother.
Dignity:Liberia is building a maternity waiting home, House of Hope and Dignity where expectant mothers can stay during their last week of pregnancy. A medically trained midwife will be on site to attend to them. You can be a part of their care. Be on the lookout for an opportunity to help furnish one of their rooms.
We also hope to cultivate good ties with local TTMs such as Hawa, who was kind enough to speak to us last year.