- Childbirth is never smooth sailing for all women. To some, going into labour is a moment of temporary insanity when all manner of crazy things happen.
- Needless to mention is mistreatment by midwives. So for would-be first time mothers who think it’s all about pushing, grunting one, two, three times and you download a bundle of noise, we have news for you
Most people get excited by the expected arrival of a new born baby. The parents-to-be, their relatives and friends wait anxiously for the new family member.
Needless to mention, the celebrations that follow the baby’s arrival never seem to end. Many always assume it was a straightforward affair. However, conversations with midwives and women who have given birth before and others who have witnessed moments of madness in the delivery rooms paint a totally different picture.
Reportedly, some of the sights and sounds are so gory that some men who know this too well avoid the labour ward like the plaque. Small wonder then, that, some husbands always completely keep off or conveniently stay on fictitious safaris or business trips when their wives are about to go into labour.
According to a city-based midwife who sought anonymity for ethical reasons, the drama medics witness in labour wards can make for great comedy. “Bringing a new life to the world is a great thing, but in some cases it is shrouded with trauma for the mother and comedy for midwives,” says the midwife, as she unsuccessfully suppresses a chuckle.
She says labour pain can send the sanest person to a mental hospital, adding: “Pregnant women pull all sorts of crazy antics in the labour wards and delivery rooms. Some of those antics we witness can leave the world’s best drama series scriptwriter awed”. The medic has witnessed all manner of oddities, but one of her most memorable hilarious incident was years back when a first time mother went into labour, stripped naked in moments of temporary insanity and began begging for a newspaper as she writhed in pain in bed.
“We were all taken a back and wondered why she would want a newspaper at such a moment of pain. When a newspaper was brought to her, she quickly folded it and began using it to rapidly fan her birth canal, vowing to never ever engage in sex! Tickled midwives couldn’t help but unsuccessfully suppress giggles,” reveals the hearty medic.
The midwife says it’s almost commonplace to see women in labour kick and punch the air with fury, insult and curse their absent husbands, scream in mother tongue, with some speaking in tongues, among other kinds of crazy behavior. A doctor friend to this writer also shared the drama and crazy stuff he has witnessed in the labour ward. He says, except for the few cases of women who go through labour normally, there are many other cases of women who exhibit odd behavior, especially when labour takes slightly longer than usual for first time mothers.
He recalls an incident when a woman undressed and began jogging around the ward butt naked, shaking her hands in worry as her distraught husband chased her around with clothes in hand, trying to restrain and force her to dress up in vain.
“In yet another incident, a woman refused to rest on the bed during labour pains. She went under the bed where she was rolling on the ground on her back as she wailed, mumbling gibberish while writhing in pain,” says the doctor.
The doctor says he has experienced cases where women in labour pain forget themselves, get carried away and pee on themselves, break wind or even soil bedding in the process, leaving care givers a distraught lot.
“The most popular punching bags, however, are those men who impregnate women and deny responsibility. They get insulted in absentia. I recall once when a woman kept crying, ‘Edward, Edward, Edward ... you’re such a useless man, see the damage you caused and you’re not here to share the pain,” said the medic. Tales have also been told of women who get wild while in labour and begin ripping apart bed sheets as they bang against their beds and chase away male midwives. Little wonder then, that, expectant mothers are at times asked if they are comfortable with male midwives helping them deliver.
Grace Njeri*, a 29-year-old mother of one says labour pains know no bounds. She says the discomfort deflates and turns even the toughest of women into humble beings.
“I was in labour for almost nine hours and those are the worst hours of my life. Mark you the nine hours felt like 40 days in the wilderness. I had this urge to go for a long call and the nurse kept saying no and asked me to do it right there in my bed, fearing I would accidentally drop the baby in the loo,” says Grace.
She says that was one hell of a moment for her because despite the pain and all, she had to to endure the indignity of defecating in a potties what she considers the smelliest poop of her life before people. “I had to endure the embarrassment, seeing as the whole room was stinking like a dumpsite. So much so that one of the nurses had to reach for air freshener,” narrates Grace.
Grace says before she ‘lost it’, she remembers laughing out loud after a totally confused woman next to her asked the doctor what time Manchester United was playing Gor Mahia FC!
“There was another lady who made everyone in the labour ward laugh after shouting, ‘daktari kimbia mtoto anakuja (run here doctor, the baby is coming out)’. Three nurses came to her bed running, then she said, ‘wooooi amewaona mkiwa wengi akarudi’ (She peeped and saw you were too many and got scared back into the womb!)”
For 27-year-old Alice Mwendwa*, labour pain felt like she was being burnt alive. Hear her: “I sweated like a pig. I screamed and pulled my hair. By the time I delivered, I was almost losing my voice. After delivering the bouncing baby girl, I asked the doctor to bring me my mobile phone. I dialed my mother’s number and in faint voice, I asked her to forgive me for all the wrong things I had done to her!”
Alice says her friend Nancy spoke in tongues in the labour ward and sang a song that she later confessed that she had composed right there in the ward. However, Sharon Ndanu, says that some of these antics are acted.
She argues: “I look at women who scream, wail and roll on the ground during labour and conclude that they are not in pain. Otherwise with all that pain, where does one get the energy to scream or roll on the floor?”
Ndanu says she has been in labour twice and despite being in pain, she stayed calm because the pain was too much to engage in other gymnastics and acrobatics like some women. “I wanted to scream, wail or even roll on the floor but I couldn’t! I mean, where was the energy?” she loudly wonders.
Ndanu goes on to add that the folly of wailing is that medics now know those engage in dramatic antics only act so to get their attention. Thus, medics nowadays ignore such “noise makers” and give more attention to the silent-in-agony ones.