REMEMBERING THOSE WHO GRIEVE FOR LOSING A BABY
The commemoration of Baby Loss Awareness Week is to use the grief of baby loss to draw attention to the need of making pregnancy and delivery safe. The objective is to work towards preventing newborn deaths and stillbirths by driving down the neonatal mortality rate to 12 or fewer per 1,000 live births and the stillbirth rate to 12 or fewer per 1,000 births 12 or less per 1,000. Therefore, meet the 2030 Global Agenda and ensure that Goals 1 and 2 of Every Newborn National and Global Milestone by 2020 target is attained (1).
Prevalence of Newborn Deaths in Nigeria
Nigeria falls in the 33 countries with the highest newborn mortality rates and/or burden of neonatal deaths (2). In Nigeria, the stillbirth rate is very high; in 2015, there were 42.9 per 1,000 births. In addition, 27 Nigerian newborns die every hour. These neonatal deaths account for 32 per cent of all under-five child deaths (1). Curiously, most of these deaths are preventable through good quality care for women during pregnancy and childbirth. MamaYe-Evidence for Action is actively engaged in some interventions and campaigns that make life-saving changes for mothers and babies. One of these interventions is the Maternal and Perinatal Death Surveillance and Response (MPDSR). The goal is to ensure improved reporting and documentation of perinatal deaths for response purposes.
How negligence robbed a mother of the life of her baby
To commemorate the 2017 Baby Loss Awareness Week, we spoke with Mrs. Chioma Gregory, a mother of two, who was expecting her third child in the latter part of 2017. However, the foetus died in her womb without her health providers suspecting the incident for several months. Below are excerpts from a conversation with Mrs. Gregory, over her baby loss experience.
The 23rd of June 2017 was not a good day for me. Before then, I could feel that my pregnancy was not like my two previous pregnancies. My tummy seemed to have stopped protruding. My first two babies were big, so I expected a big tummy. Three weeks before then, I had had a slight spotting, and went to the hospital. The nurse on duty gave me an injection to arrest contractions and asked me to come back the next day to see the doctor. The doctor examined me and told me my baby was fine.
The next day, I started discharging mucus clogs. I reported the incidence to the doctor, who told me there was nothing to worry about. The bleeding stopped, so I felt everything was normal. Later, I started having constant constipation and a rumbling tummy. I went back to the hospital, and I was recommended for external scan, which indicated that my baby was dead. My baby had stopped growing at 19 weeks.
By my calculation I was 24 weeks and 3 days, which means the baby had been dead in my womb for over 5 weeks. Apparently, all this while, the baby was trying to expel by itself, yet the doctor told me everything was okay. It was heart-rending. Even though I had two kids, it didn’t cushion the effect of losing a baby. The doctor insisted that I have vaginal delivery, even though my previous deliveries were through C-section.
Going through such excruciating pain just to deliver a dead baby… I thank God the baby had not disintegrated although it had been dead for over five weeks.
That was not the end of my problem and the medical carelessness. Because the placenta didn’t come out, they did a quick manual evacuation, but some bits of the placenta remained. They gave me some drugs, including antibiotics, and I got discharged.
After few days I started bleeding so profusely that I had to resort to using diapers instead of pads. At some point, I was changing diapers about every 30 minutes.
My husband had to rush me to the hospital, and the nurse on duty was shocked that I had been discharged immediately without starting intravenous antibiotics. She placed me on injections for five days.
I kept reminding the doctor that I still had some particles of the placenta, but he kept explaining it away. Eventually, I decided to go to another hospital, where a scan was done, followed by an evacuation. That was when I got relief.
When I lost my pregnancy, I was very depressed. I stumbled on a group of women online who come together to share their experiences and console one another.
It is a scary thing that some hospitals take issues such as delivery with levity. So what MamaYe is doing—actively working in this area to make sure that mothers and babies get the quality of care they need is very important.
Carrying a pregnancy is a decision women take; they can as well not get pregnant, but if they take that decision to carry it to full term, there should be a system in place to enable safe delivery.