By Helen Ovbiagele
After the Pastor had handed back the baby to its parents at this baby dedication at a Church, the mother said she had a testimony linked to its birth. She was given the microphone.
“Praise the Lord everybody!” she shouted. We replied with a thunderous ‘Halleluiah’.
“My brothers and my sisters, help me to thank the Lord. He’s so awesome and wonderful! The devil is a liar. He put a bad decision in my mouth, but Jesus reversed it for my good and safety. You see, I’m someone who cannot bear pain. No-one told me how painful childbirth was before I had the experience myself, through having my first child. I had a prolonged painful labour, and oh! The pain of delivery was so much that I told my husband that we would stop at just one child. He just laughed. Soon, I wanted another child, of course, but dreaded the pain. What to do?I had had discussions with my friends and some of them said Caesarian Section (CS) was the best option; as delivery is very quick through surgery, and it’s actually safer for both mother and baby. You don’t need to go through all that labour and delivery pains, and you recuperate fast. With that assurance at the back of my mind, I had a very blissful pregnancy.
I was recommended this posh hospital where most of their patients deliver by CS.. I told only my husband of my decision and he rejected it straightaway. I stuck to my decision since I was the one going to experience child-birth; not he. My doctor gave me a due date to come in for the CS, but two days before that day, I went into labour. We rushed to the hospital, and I was admitted and taken to the delivery room. The nurses knew that I had opted for a CS, so they went to look for a surgeon on duty. None was available; they were operating. I screamed! Was I going to go through delivery pains again? As I groaned in labour, they assured me that as soon as a doctor was free, I would be attended to, and that my doctor had been informed, and was on his way. I waited in pain.
A nurse went out and soon returned with a doctor who smiled at me, but had a no-nonsense look on his face. After examining me, he said “Madam, it says here on your file that you had your first baby naturally without any complications. And there’s been no problem in this second pregnancy. Excellent!” Without allowing me to protest he went on, ‘’You can do it again, by the grace of God. No need for surgery. So, let’s go! Push only when you’re told! My brother, hold your wife’s hand and encourage her any way you can,” he told my husband. Within minutes my baby was born! Praise the Lord!” We responded with claps and shouts of ‘Halleluiah’
She went on to tell us that a friend of hers who had wanted a natural birth that same time, was told she couldn’t have it, because it would be risky for both her and her baby. She had to have a CS, and she almost died from the experience. She spent eight weeks in the hospital afterwards, and for quite a while, was unable to attend to her baby. Please thank God for me. The devil is a liar.”
The pastor summed up the experience wisely, saying that the devil had not been at work at all, but rather, God allowed her that false sense of security so that her pregnancy would be a happy one. God had decided on natural delivery for her from the beginning, and that was what He allowed to happen.
That may be true. We thank God that all went well with the lady’s delivery.
However, there’s the need for doctors at all maternity hospitals, both government ones and private ones, to draw close to the pregnant women in their care, and guide them to making the right choices about child-delivery. About forty years ago, natural child birth was all women knew, and some had many pregnancies and deliveries! They accepted that pains are associated with them, even though they could not have enjoyed them. That’s part of our deal from God when Eve disobeyed Him in the garden of Eden and ate the forbidden fruit. She blamed the devil, just like the lady with the testimony did above here, but it was still a personal choice. The Bible plainly tells us that in pain shall women bring forth their babies.
The pain is not on the same scale for every woman, but it’s there all the same. However, when the baby arrives, usually, joy surges through the mother, and the pain is forgotten. That’s not the same with a CS with takes a longer time to heal.
I’m not saying here that women must have only natural birth, rather, I’m saying that if there’s no complication with pregnancy and the birth canal, they should try to go for natural birth, if the medical team gives them the all-clear. Decades ago, Caesarian Section was carried out only when it had been concluded that natural delivery would pose a risk to either baby or mother, or both. It wasn’t carried out, like it sometimes is these days, simply on the whim and fancy of the pregnant woman, who’s trying to avoid labour/delivery pains, or the doctor/hospital who know that surgery brings in more money. It was a serious decision taken in desperate situations, and many people viewed it with dread, as pregnancy and delivery are normally seen as putting a woman’s life at risk. The thought of cutting up a woman for this, doubles the fear. I know that giant strides in science have been made worldwide, and the CS has become a choice to be made by the pregnant women themselves – to avoid painful labour and delivery, to hasten the emergence of the baby, or, simply to keep to a particular date of birth that they fancied and have chosen.
There are other options too, like the Epidural Anaesthesia childbirth pain relief, which is the injection of a numbing medicine around the spinal nerves in the lower back. It numbs the area below the point of injection and allows you to remain awake during the delivery. It can be used both in vaginal or caesarian delivery. I understand this proceedure is being refined all the time to make it safer, but we should remember the case of a Nigerian lady who had epidural in the U.K some years ago, suffered paralysis because the area numbed didn’t come alive again, and she was in a semi coma for several years in a hospital she was brought to here in Lagos, before she finally died.
Specialists should discuss in detail the birth choice a woman wants to make so that she can be well guided. There’s no choice in life which doesn’t involve some risks; some great, some small.
Some of us who are old-fashioned still think that natural birth is best. Hospitals are meant to run pre-natal exercises for pregnant women, so that they can become supple in the relevant places, relaxed and fit for delivery. Husbands can attend too, so that they can guide their wives through the routine at home.
There should be post natal exercises too, given by physiotherapists, to help the woman’s womb return to its position, and also help her regain her figure.
These are things that the Ministry of Health at all levels of governance should see that the maternity hospitals put in place; in addition to establishing facilities that would ensure safe delivery for all our pregnant women, and safe birth for their babies too. Figures for women and babies who die at childbirth/birth in Nigeria, are among the highest in the world, we’re told.