Ummu, Yamide, Nengi and Ifueko had been meeting constantly at the Doctor’s waiting room at Radcliffe Hospital, for the past 3 to 4 months because their antenatal days happen to coincide.
Ummu, a housewife and mother of two, is expecting her third child at age 36 while Yamide, an upwardly mobile career woman, a primigravida at an advanced maternal age, is expecting her first child. Both are in their third trimester of pregnancy as they eagerly await the arrival of their babies. Nengi, at 24 is experiencing her first pregnancy as well and is expecting twins. She is in her second trimester while Ifueko who gave birth prematurely at 29weeks and lost the baby 9 months earlier, is in the first trimester of this current pregnancy All four are patients of the resident gynecologist – Dr. Bellgam.
Given Ifueko’s recent unsavoury experience, she initiates the conversation by addressing Ummu and Yamide who seemed deeply engrossed in discussion. “I really am worried about this baby, given that I lost the first one”. Ummu and Yamide respond in empathy “what happened?” Ifueko explains “It was my first pregnancy and I had no clue about all the signs so I did not even realise I was pregnant until I was 5 months gone. I felt a little fatigued and gained a little weight but did not experience the common symptoms of nausea and producing excessive saliva. In the fifth month of pregnancy, I visited a cousin and was about to leave, when I suddenly fainted and after I was revived, I was taken to a hospital and pronounced pregnant. I then registered for antenatal visits with that hospital. Things were great until I woke up in the early hours of one morning to find my bed wet. I was later informed that my amniotic sac (“Bag of waters”) ruptured and unfortunately, the hospital I was using lacked both the human capacity and equipment to handle a premature delivery. Nengi, who has been eavesdropping all the while, whispers a loud..”my God!” as Ifueko continues with the details “ The baby was born with a low birth weight and in the absence of an incubator and other relevant equipment, survived for only 10 hours.”
Ummu hurries to re-assure her that every baby is different and she probably will not experience the same. She further informs her that Dr. Bellgam is highly experienced and had birthed her first two children. She continues…” During my first pregnancy, I suffered eclampsia (high blood pressure in pregnancy) but it was properly controlled and I delivered Ahmed easily. For Aisha though, it was a difficult pregnancy starting with Carpel tunnel syndrome which had to be managed in pain throughout the pregnancy. Thank God, it disappeared after delivery. Then, at 36 weeks, Aisha had a breech presentation which Dr. Bellgam carefully maneuvered and I had a normal delivery although he had prepared my mind in the inevitability of a Caesarean section . My current pregnancy has however been without issues. One other key thing is – this is a hospital with specialisation in gynecology and obstetrics so all necessary expertise and equipment are available”.
Yamide chips in “ Given my age in becoming a primigravida, I experienced unusual cravings for food I didn’t usually eat and also suffered a couple of threatened abortions. I was further informed that the neck of my cervix was weak but with a shirodkar stitch in place, my EDD is in a week’s time. I know I’m going to have this baby and he will survive”.
Nengi quips, clapping her hands….”So it’s a boy. You weren’t telling, but it’s out now.” She continues….”A word of advice to you Ifueko. It is important to check out the rating and inspect the facilities your hospital has before settling for them. More especially, where the pregnancy is your first, because there are so many things that can go wrong to cause mother or child mortality or even end up in disability. I suffered pica in which I was gulping down volumes of Ice daily (which I thought was probably because of increased internal heat) but when I mentioned it to the Doctor, he conducted some tests and treated me for Pica. That has since stopped.
Ummu’s last words as the veteran in the room are “ Each pregnancy comes with its own challenges which are different in presentation and intensity, however the key things you must do are:
- Enroll with a qualified experienced Gynecologist and where in doubt, with a Government facility or Teaching hospital.
- Be prayerful and commit the pregnancy and delivery process to God.
- Be attentive about diet and exercise”.
Primigravida – A woman who is pregnant for the first time.
Shirodkar – A surgical procedure which involves tightening the neck of the cervix.
EDD – Expected Date of Delivery.
Pica – An unusual craving to eat things that are not food e.g dirt, ice, etc.