This week we have had the opportunity to experience the wonder and beauty of a new life. We have seen 7 births so far each being a completely different experience than we are used to at home. Women are not given any pain medication; it is not even an option. Husbands/partners are not permitted in the birthing room. Women are not allowed to make any noise, and if they do they are shushed or swatted on the head. Childbirth seems like it is just part of another day for a Lozi woman. 8:00 wake up. 10:00 deliver baby. But back home at 1600 in time to make dinner for the rest of the family. One woman came in for her fifth pregnancy. She delivered in 10 minutes, got up, walked back to bed and was probably gone by supper time.
These experiences were in stark contrast to what we have seen at home. Women have epidurals, husbands or other family members are almost always there for support, and the women are allowed to yell, scream, or curse as loudly as they want. The faces of the women here are stoic, calm, and seem confident. They seem to know exactly what to do when it is time for the babe to be born.
Another thing we have noticed is that each woman comes with her own bag or suitcase filled with all the supplies she will need for childbirth: a plastic sheet, towels, sheets, clothes, cotton pads and sterile gloves. The midwife explained that women are instructed to bring these as the hospital may not always be able to supply what is needed.
We both had the chance to be part of birthing the babies this week. It was a wonderful and unique experience each time. We were so thankful to be able to hold the baby’s head and guide it into the world, truly giving us a personal and front-row seat to the miracle of life. It’s an experience that we will never be able to duplicate back in Canada but it was a privilege to be able to experience in rural Africa.
Rachel and Susie