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Zena's story

 

Clara is my second baby. She’s six months old and I have a four year old daughter too. Both my babies needed to be born by caesarean because they were large and I had other problems. 

I didn’t expect I’d need another caesarean and was planning a vaginal birth. I felt a terrible pain one day so I told my partner It was time to go to the health centre. I was in labour but when the doctors examined me they said I was going to need another caesarean. I didn’t know what to do. My partner was really unhappy and confused. He was so worried and couldn’t understand why I’d need another caesarean. He told me not to have the operation. I was scared but I told him ‘what if we don’t have it and lose the baby or I die?’
 
He still wasn’t convinced so I decided to be the strong one and make the decision. The doctor talked to me again and I said ‘let’s have the caesarean now.” When I went to theatre my partner was still 50/50. It was hard to go in there knowing he wasn’t sure I was doing the right thing. I was so anxious that my blood pressure went dangerously high. But the nurses helped me calm down and the birth went well. I was so happy when I held my baby. I felt like I’d made the right decision. 
 
Most people in our village attend the health centre but there’s still some who are frightened or lazy or superstitious. Sometimes women’s partners aren’t supportive of them taking time to go to antenatal appointments too. Often is more complicated than that. A pregnant acquaintance recently went to visit the local witchdoctor who told her “you and your baby will die if you go to the hospital and have a c-section”. That stayed in her mind and she decided she would refuse a caesarean whatever happened. 
 
Her family persuaded her to go to the health centre when she was in labour as it was taking too long. The doctors and nurses tried to convince her to have a caesarean but instead she walked home and went to church. Everyone prayed for her. During the night the pains started again and she went back to the hospital. She refused the caesarean again and both she and the baby died. She was so confused and didn’t know who to trust. I hope these awful things will stop happening soon.
 
I love my babies. When I look at them I know I wouldn’t be here now without the new facilities in our area. We need more skilled midwives and doctors though, more health centres and better education. That’s what I want for my daughters. To know they will be safe giving birth wherever they are in Tanzania.