Having your wife, sister or female friend go to the delivery room to deliver a baby sucessfully should be one that comes expectedly. Unfortunately, this is not the case in some parts of the world. Nigeria suffers one of the worst maternal mortality rates on earth. Unfortunately, Nigeria is not the only African countries losing their pregnant women to religious houses or poor health care. The reasons glare boldly in the face of pregnant women, who have presented options of surviving childbirth.
Caesarean section (C-Section) is often the last resort that has been chosen by many African women. Myths behind C-sections such as being important to deliver like an Hebrew woman, have created a bridge that many pregnant women would not consider even with a long spoon.
In Africa, it is erroneously believed that natural birth is aligned with womanhood. It is believed that a woman who gives birth naturally is strong and not cursed. For Christian women, religion often put a hedge when it comes to having surgery for childbirth. Many prayer houses insist that these troubled women must give birth effortless when they are prayed for.
Concerns over pregnant women’s safety, coupled with social and religious factors leave many survivors of this surgery stigmatized. The trauma and stigmatization cause many women who desperately need help during childbirth to resist the surgery. While many hide it from the public to avoid name-calling or dragging them as cheats to their spouses.
In some places in Africa, C-section is considered a taboo for women. It is believed that any woman who gives birth through surgery cheated on their spouses. For many pregnant who are given the option by their doctors, they resort to ‘God forbid,’ or head to religious houses for help.
Africa is deeply religious and everything is often spiritualized especially when it comes to upholding the symbol of maternal virtue. The life of a pregnant woman who is in dire need of survival lies in the hands of the husband. Signing the consent form that will allow the hospital to operate on these women is the duty of the husbands.
Most of these men will not touch these forms because they believe their wives are strong enough to go through the natural birth process.
The problem with most of these women who refuse surgery is that they often suffer medical complications or death. C-sections help prevent obstructed labour that can force a baby to cause tears or rupture the uterus that leads to haemorrhage.
In the global context, the number of women who undergo C-sections is on the rise. West Africa, especially Nigeria, has the lowest number of women who use surgery to save their kids and themselves.
Women who have small pelvis have problems with natural birth. Babies cannot pass through the small or narrow pelvis. Without medical intervention, these babies may cause catastrophically haemorrhage or rupture the uterus. For women who are ready to use this medical procedure, the cost of undergoing it is beyond their financial capability.
While C-sections can be considered as the last resort for many pregnant women in the continent, the process can increase the risk of placenta previa. This condition can cause severe bleeding. In many places, especially the rural communities, access to C-sections is extremely low and many fall into the hands of unskilled birth attendants.
If these factors that lead to women avoiding C-sections in Africa can be reduced, mortality rates among women in Africa can be greatly improved.