Alcohol, pregnancy and the Holy Bible

Alcohol and pregnancy don’t mix! This is because according to experts, it increases the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth; it raises the odds for having a baby with a low birth weight and raise your child’s risk for having problems with learning, speech, attention span, language, and hyperactivity -do you want that for your baby? Of course NO!!!

ALCOHOL AND PREGNANCY

Come to think of it, the warnings of taking alcohol during pregnancy did not start last night; it is the oldest warning ever! Remember the birth of Samson in the book of Judges? Sasa, An angel appears to the hero’s mother before she is pregnant and cautions against taking alcohol as thus, and I quote from Judges 13:7, King James Version:

“But he said unto me, Behold, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and now drink no wine nor strong drink, neither eat any unclean thing: for the child shall be a Nazarite to God from the womb to the day of his death”

There you go- taking alcohol even in small dozes is a no-no during pregnancy as the bible and the doctors warn…

Have a sober pregnancy, won’t you?

Happy World Menstrual Hygiene Day!

May 28 is the world Menstrual Hygiene Day. 2014 will be the first time the world celebrates this very important day.

By the way, did you know that half of the people on the planet are female, most of who begin their cycles between 9-17 years of age? Menstruation is a natural process that is part of nearly every girl’s and woman’s life, but this natural process is still treated as a taboo in countless cultures and societies across the globe Kenya included.

In Bangladesh for example, when a woman menstruate, she is not allowed to prepare food or to work in the rice fields. Sharing a bed with her partner, praying or reading the Koran is also prohibited during this period.

The taboo in India is just the one! Ati if a woman or a girl touches a cow when she is menstruating, the cow will become infertile!

Most of the time in Kenya you are told that when your hair is plaited by a woman who is menstruating, you will either lose your hairline or your hair will simply drop off! Ha ha ha lies!!!

Menstrual Hygiene Day offers the opportunity to create awareness of the right of women and girls to hygienically manage their menstruation – in privacy, safety and with dignity – where ever they are.

MENSTRUAL HYGIENE DAY

28th May was carefully selected to celebrate this day as May is the 5th month of the year, representing 5 days, or the average number of days (between 2-7) a woman or girl spends menstruating each month. And, 28 represent the average number of days in a menstrual cycle.

WASH United is the initiator of the Menstrual Hygiene Day. Its goal is to have Menstrual Hygiene Day become an official UN Day by 2020.

To my fellow women all over the Globe have a happy Menstrual Hygiene Day! Let’s celebrate this natural process in a safe and hygienic manner!

Fistula: a woman’s dignity robber

Many of us, you and I included could be walking with some conditions only you, your doctor and to some extend your close family know about. This is not the same to a woman affected by fistula as her condition is an open book for anyone with a sense of smell; such a woman is singled out and her condition exposed by virtue of her smelling.

Fistula is the gravest dehumanizing condition affecting many girls and women in developing countries. It is a real threat to a woman’s dignity as it deprives a woman her self-esteem leading to withdrawal due to stigmatization. When you are smelly, you definitely become a social outcast.

For those who did not know, May 23 is the United Nations’ (UN) International Day to End Obstetric Fistula, which promotes action towards treating and preventing obstetric fistula. This year’s theme is, “Tracking Fistula – Transforming Lives”

In 2003 the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and its partners launched the global Campaign to End Fistula, a collaborative initiative to prevent fistula and restore the health of those affected by the condition. In 2012, the UN announced that it would observe International Day to End Obstetric Fistula on May 23 each year, starting in 2013. This therefore will be the second time this day will be observed.

Photo courtesy of UNFPA

Photo courtesy of UNFPA

Fistula is a dreadful injury that occurs during prolonged, obstructed labour. This condition harms women physically, socially and economically. Statistics show that at least 2 million women in Africa, Asia and the Arab region are living with the condition, with about 50,000 to 100,000 new cases each year.

According to Sister Christine Muthengi, the coordinator of Fistula programme at the Kenyatta National Hospital, obstructed labour occurs when a mother labours for more than 24 hours. Reasons for prolonged labour are numerous but Sister Christine Muthengi highlighted the following key reasons: poverty; conception at a tender age when the pelvic organs are not matured; ignorance; distance between a woman’s home and the hospital and sadly, culture where by a woman sees no reason of delivering at a health facility yet all her children or her mother-in law’s children (her husband included) have all been delivered at home.

Apart from prolonged labor without prompt medical intervention, surgeries such as a Caesarean section can also cause fistula.

Due to the abnormal opening, a woman with this condition leaks urine or faeces or both and therefore she has to use diapers or rugs to contain the leaking.

“This condition marginalize women, strips them of their dignity, humiliates them and denies them their humanity because family members, friends and neighbours cannot stand the smell of leaking urine, faeces or both”, said Sister Christine Muthengi.

Most women with the condition do not know that treatment is available, and if they do, they most times cannot afford it because such a surgery in Kenya costs 55,000 Kenya shillings an amount that a poor woman who lives under a dollar a day can only dream about.

Kenyatta National Hospital

Kenyatta National Hospital

But Kenyatta National Hospital, through its fistula programme and other partners such as the African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF) try to restore women dignity by repairing the condition through surgery. AMREF has been involved in Fistula treatment since 1992 in 8 East African Countries through its Amref Clinical Outreach Programme.

Firstly, the patient undergoes counseling to reassure her that the condition is not a killer disease and neither is she cursed nor bewitched. The surgery is then performed by specialists trained to handle the condition and the patient managed for 6 months. During the 6 months, as Sister Christine Muthengi said, the patient is supposed to do the following as part of the healing process:

  • Take at least 5-6 liters of water per day from the date of the surgery.
  • Maintain high hygienic standards around the surgery area
  • Take food rich in proteins
  • Refrain from sex for the 6 months
  • Go for follow-up clinics after the surgery

If you know someone with this condition, I just have one request; kindly ask them to find their way to Kenyatta National Hospital on 4th July this year  for there will be a big2 weeks fistula camp at the facility where women with this condition will receive treatment at no cost. As sister Christine Muthengi confirmed, every time they have the camp, more than 100 women are repaired thus have their dignity restored.

Celebrate this day by sharing this information as widely as possible and thus help in giving a new lease of life to a woman with fistula.

 

 

 

On a lighter note…

When you are a first timer in pregnancy, you receive so many advises from all quarters; left, right and center and surprisingly, from even the people who have never been pregnant in their life on earth! This pregnancy dos and don’t increase anxiety if not clog your mind and imagination.

avocadoI remember during my pregnancy journey, I was warned against eating pineapples (the way I loved them when over ripe) reason? It will open my cervix lol! Another advice I received was not eating eggs and avocado for the simple reason that they will increase my chances of CS as the baby will be too huge thus making natural  delivery almost impossible – this is one advice I religiously followed since I wanted to ‘push’ my baby.

Hair styling advice also came in handy from both hair stylists and non stylists alike. I was warned against relaxing my hair or sitting under a hair dyer since the heat could ‘dry’ me to death! He he then came to styling my hair when about to go to labour! I was warned against braiding my hair because the  pain experienced during labour could make me pull my braids one by one the best hair style therefore for laboring and birthing was push back cornrows!

conrows

The moral of this is, since you do not know what to expect and what to do, your gynecologist should become your best friend. Ask him/ her as many questions as possible no matter how silly they sound and of course ask your mum- remember she gave birth to you and your siblings so she knows better…one more advice, since all pregnancies are different and there is no master-key to all pregnancy experiences, trust your instincts and your feelings!

 

For the ones we dream of, the ones we held and the ones we lost

Told By A Mum

Hi!Thank you for taking the time to read this post.I am grateful for all of you who take time out of your day to enter my world.

This post came from the fact that I recognise that not all mother’s have babies.Or will ever hold their babies.Yes.Not by choice, because had they the power things would have panned out differently.

As I desired to conceive two years ago.I prayed to God to grant me the desires of my heart.I had never been pregnant before and my first pregnancy I carried to term and gave birth to a healthy baby girl.But I acknowledge the fact that for many many mother’s it has not been and is still not as straight forward as it mine was.I can only imagine the longing and the endless desperation to conceive.It must not be easy.I can imagine you living about your life but at the back…

View original post 945 more words

Sharing is healing….

Sharing is healing....

Have you gone through an experience during pregnancy? Do you want to share it thus encourage other people? Lourdesdiary is giving you an opportunity to share your experience in your own words- sharing is the perfect way of healing and besides, you will be remembering your experience with less pain and more joy. Send me an email on lourdeswalusala@yahoo.com and Cc farajasg@gmail.com- Lets do this together!

Image

My son’s death could have been prevented

The story of my pregnancy journey and eventual death of my son and sunshine as was published in today’s Daily Nation. 
Lourdes Walusala during interview at Nation Center on May 8, 2014. Photo/ JEFF ANGOTE (NAIROBI) Lourdes Walusala during interview at Nation Center on May 8, 2014. Photo/ JEFF ANGOTE (NAIROBI)

 By Maryanne W. Wanyama

When Lourdes Walusala found out that she was pregnant two years ago, she and her husband could hardly wait to hold their first child.

Lourdes was especially happy.

“I was excited about becoming a mother; it was the start of a new chapter in my life. I began eating right, exercising mildly, relaxing, and was determined not to let anything stress me. I was focused on having a healthy, smooth pregnancy,” she says.

She nicknamed her child, a boy, “Sunshine” and would often talk or sing to him as she went about her day-to-day activities. At the time, she was a Third Year communication student at Moi University’s Nairobi campus. Rather than make her feel overwhelmed, the pregnancy seemed to give her renewed energy to do better in her studies.

“When an answer was elusive during an exam, I would rub my belly and ask: ‘Baby, what did we study yesterday?’ and the answers would come to me,” she jokes.

Around her 24th week of pregnancy, she noticed that her legs were swelling. She informed her doctor about this during her next antenatal appointment. After routine tests, her blood pressure was found to be high and she was immediately put on medication to help lower it. During a follow-up visit, her blood pressure was still higher than normal and to be on the safe side, her doctor put her on a week-long bed rest.

Five weeks later, Lourdes one day woke up feeling troubled. Even though her baby was active, she had an unsettling feeling she could not put a finger on. She decided to consult her doctor, who then sent her for an ultrasound, her first.

“I was happy to see my son for the first time. There he was, relaxed, with his fingers inside his mouth,” she remembers.

She was relieved when the doctor informed her that her baby was in perfect condition. However, because her blood pressure was still high, he recommended bed rest for another two weeks.

The following morning, period-like pains woke Lourdes up. Unsure what that meant, she went to see her doctor, an established consultant gynaecologist with his own private practice. He assured her that all was well, that the period pains were “normal contractions”.

“Even though I was very worried, the doctor dismissed my concerns, explaining that I was only worried because it was my first pregnancy. He did not examine me or run any tests,” she says.

Instead, he gave her a prescription and after buying the medicine, Lourdes went back home. The painful contractions still persisted, and feeling fatigued, all she wanted was to sleep. However, before getting into bed, she visited the bathroom, and gasped in shock.

“My underwear was soaked in blood. I immediately called my doctor, who instructed me to go to the nearest hospital as fast as I could.”

With her husband out of the country, she sought her neighbour’s help. He drove her to the nearest hospital, a public one. She had been making plans to deliver at a private hospital. However, she was sure she would be in safe hands at this hospital, but she was wrong.

At the casualty, she was met with nonchalance.

“The receiving nurses rudely asked me why I was bleeding. ‘Did your husband beat you or did you fall?’” they asked.

They also questioned Lourdes about her decision to attend her antenatal clinic at a private facility.

“We tell you women to go to government hospitals but you don’t listen to us. Look at you now, this is the time you need us, huh?”

In excruciating pain, bleeding and desperate, Lourdes apologised profusely for the “mistake” of seeking antenatal care at a private clinic.

The unforgiving nurses then ordered her to walk to the labour ward. Nobody assisted her. After struggling to do so, she was asked to climb on to one of the beds.

“I was unable to because the bed was high and I was in great pain. My neighbour had long been sent away. When I asked for the nurses’ help, they refused, telling me if I didn’t want to help myself, then I might as well return home. Even worse, different staff (male and female) would pass by at intervals, each time asking me to part my legs so that they could inspect me. I felt stripped of all dignity,” she recalls.

About four hours later, and with no signs of being suitably attended to, she resigned herself to the probability of dying. She was sure that day, 14 June, 2013, was going to be her last on earth. She was never going to be a mother.

About two weeks before this, the government had introduced free maternity services. As a result, the labour ward in this hospital was filled with many pregnant women, some writhing in pain on the floor and others, like Lourdes, soaking the floor with their blood.

Lourdes says that when she tried to seek the nurses’ help, they rebuked her, retorting that the government had decided to offer free maternity services, but had not allocated money to facilitate this and neither had it employed more nurses.

“I wondered why I was being punished for a policy I had nothing to do with,” Lourdes said.

Lonely, scared, and numbed by the pain in her belly, she was relieved when, from afar, she heard her doctor’s voice. He had arrived to attend to her. Moments later, she was transferred to the hospital’s private wing. Soon afterwards, she was rushed to the theatre for emergency surgery.

When she came to, she heard what must have been cries of new-borns and asked the nurse nearby to hand over her son. Instead, she was told her that her doctor was on his way. When he arrived, he did not bear good news. He simply informed her that her son had died. His words are forever etched in her memory:

“Lourdes, by the time you went to theatre, you had lost too much blood and your son was already dead. We were trying to save your life.”

NOTHING TO SHOW

She remembers laughing at the doctor’s words. There was no way her son would be dead. Were those not his cries she was hearing?

However, reality soon dawned on her when a short while later, she saw a little girl going around the ward, greeting new mothers and admiring their newborns.

“When the girl came to me, she asked: ‘Aunty, where is your baby’?” That is when it hit me that I had no baby. My Sunshine was dead. It hit me like a thunderbolt. It was the worst pain I have ever felt. I cried as I have never cried before. I wanted to die too.”

A few days later, Lourdes was discharged from hospital. She had no baby, yet had a caesarean wound and engorged breasts. Lourdes was inconsolable.

“I cried every day. I had done everything right. I had taken good care of myself and my pregnancy, attending my clinics religiously once each month. I was seeing an experienced gynaecologist and paying a couple of thousands for each consultation, yet I lost my baby.”

She sunk into depression.

“The more I mourned my son, the more I feared that I was going mad. Many times I found myself lying in the backyard, yearning to scream my lungs out just so that the pain in my heart would go away. I became suicidal, longing for death.”

It was the encouragement and support of her husband, family, colleagues, and friends that pulled Lourdes from that dark place. She also sought counselling, which helped her deal with the overwhelming grief.

It is almost a year now since she lost her Sunshine and, finally, Lourdes can now talk about her experience as part of her healing process and also in the hope that it will help another woman to save her unborn child’s life.

“Later, I found out that preeclampsia was responsible for the loss of my son. I advise all pregnant women to be wary of this condition and to be aware of all the danger signs. They should also seek a second opinion and not rely on one doctor’s diagnosis, especially if in doubt.”

Lourdes also wishes the government would address issues of the ill-treatment that pregnant women are subjected to at public hospitals across the country.

She says, “Pregnant women deserve the best care and it should not matter if they are in a public or private facility. Even though there is a shortage of health personnel, there should be a deliberate effort to select suitable staff for maternity departments because the birth process is very delicate and needs workers who have a genuine compassion for mothers and newborns.”

Lourdes has a blog where she talks about maternal health issues. Through it, she has met many women who too have lost their babies in circumstances that could have been avoided. It is through this interaction that she has now formed a support group for women who have gone through a similar experience. They often meet to uplift, counsel, and encourage each other.
If interested in joining, contact Lourdes through Email: lourdeswalusala@yahoo.com Blog: lourdesdiary.wordpress.com

Polio drop, the perfect mother’s day gift to your under 5 child!

Last year a day like today, I was a mom in waiting. I marked mother’s day carrying my son, my little sunshine, my honeybunch. This year’s Mother’s day, which will be celebrated this Sunday 11th May, would have been my first ever mother’s day as a real mom and to be honest, the thought of being a mom gave me so much joy. It was God’s favour to have been among the women He blessed with the gift of the womb to ‘help’ Him in creation. But placenta abruption that occurred on 14th June 2013 robbed me off this joy this means I will be celebrating this mother’s day minus my little sunshine.

Baby could have been 8 months 2 weeks today and a site I have subscribed to was not late to inform me about his development – I receive this information every week though my baby is no morel I couldn’t deactivate from the service because this helps me stay sober. So this week, this was the information that was sent to me.

Hello, Lourdes! Your baby is 8 months 2 weeks old. He is starting to grasp what it means when someone can no longer be seen, the result of a growing understanding of what’s called object permanence. An exciting demonstration of this comes the first time your baby tries to imitate a goodbye wave by twisting a wrist or flapping a hand. Not all 8-month-olds can wave bye-bye, but it’s a fun new feat to anticipate. It takes a certain amount of fine-motor coordination to wave in the style of the Queen (or Mom and Dad).

I smiled amid tears and tried to envisage how strong and active this boy from Khwisero could have been considering the way he kicked hard especially when I sang Shania Twain’s ‘From this moment’.

As I was walking to my place of work this morning to do the duties that pay my bills, I was thinking of the perfect gift that I could have given that little man this mother’s day and I did got a suggestion which I want to request you my reader this mother’s day. You probably have a child who is under five. Definitely this child cannot buy you chocolate, cards, flowers or any gifts – he/ she maybe does not even know if such a day exists. But darling, you can do something for that baby that you love so much this mother’s day- please have him / her get the polio drop. This is not an expensive gift but it is priceless as it equals life.

Mother’s day is marked annually on the 2nd Sunday of May. It celebrates motherhood and it is a time to appreciate mothers and mother figures. Many people give gifts, cards, flowers, candy, and a meal in a restaurant or other treats to their mother and mother figures, including grandmothers, great-grandmothers, stepmothers, and foster mothers. But giving your children a gift on mother’s day is not a bad idea is it?

MOTHERS DAY OK

Starting tomorrow, Saturday 10th to Wednesday 14th May 2014, another round of polio vaccine will be administered to children under the age of 5 in 25 high risk counties in the country. Since Mother’s day is marked as a way of honoring the sacrifices mothers made for their children, make a sacrifice to mark it with by having your little sunshine vaccinated.

The 25 selected high-risk counties where the campaign will be carried out are: Baringo, Bungoma, Busia, Elgeyo Marakwet, Garissa and Refugee camps, Homabay, Isiolo, Kakamega, Kilifi, Kisii, Kisumu, Kwale, Lamu, Mandera, Marsabit, Migori, Mombasa, Nairobi, Siaya, Tana River, Trans Nzoia, Turkana and Kakuma Refugee camp, Vihiga, Wajir and West pokot.

In a nut shell, Polio is an infectious disease that has no cure. It invades the nervous system and can cause irreversible paralysis and even death. It is highly infectious, and can have debilitating impacts. While it can strike anyone, at any age, the disease mainly affects children under five years old.

A child receiving the drop of life

A child receiving the drop of life

You may say that your child had already been vaccinated fine; in fact you are very right but remember, polio virus knows no boarders and carriers frequently move from one country to another. Therefore, as long as a single child remains infected, children in all high risk countries are at risk of contracting polio.

Don’t let your child be statistic have him/ her vaccinated when the health workers come to your neighbourhood or simply walk to a health facility for your child to receive this drop of life.

Before I sign off, I wish my precious mother, Mrs. Electine Walusala, who has always been near to guide my way and light my day, a very happy mother’s day. And to my mother in-law, Mrs. Leonidah Atamba, thank you for giving birth to my husband, thank you for all the sacrifices you made to raise him into a man of integrity and honour- happy mother’s day my mummies!

And to all you mothers and mothers in waiting, HAVE A GLORIOUS MOTHER’S DAY!!!

By the way, did you know that more phone calls are made on mother’s day than any other day of the year all over the world? Ok, now you definitely know!

 

Good news: Free Rotavirus vaccine to be introduced in Kenya this July

My friend got a high paying job outside the country and just 3 days to her departure to go and grab the once in a lifetime opportunity, her son, who she had left under the care of her mom upcountry, developed rotavirus! Though she finally traveled, she left her very sick son admitted  at the hospital, under the care of her old mother- you can imagine the anguish and the inconveniences that the damn rotavirus caused to my friend.

That is not the end of my rotavirus stories! My classmate missed her end of semester exams because that very day that we were to start our exams, her son was admitted at Mater Hospital following chaotic diarrhea and vomiting due to Rotavirus! She had to wait until  when the exams could be offered again for her to take them with a different class- it took her a whole academic year – inconveniencing right?

Any mom, whether a working or a stay-at-home mom who has had a sick child before will agree with me that sickness in children not only causes emotional and psychological pain but it is inconveniencing and agonizing as well to watch your baby suffer yet you are too helpless to ease his/ her pain.

But  parents can breathe a sigh of relief because for the first time, rotavirus vaccine is being introduced in Kenya free of charge at health facilities in July this year. Announcing the good news in a Nairobi hotel, Dr. Collins Tabu from the Ministry of Health’s Unit of Vaccines and Immunization Services (UVIS)  said that this crucial vaccine targeting 1.4 million children under the age of 1 year is a 2 dose vaccine series and will be given at the same time as some other vaccines that are administered at age 6 weeks and 10 weeks.

“Preventing serious rotavirus disease by vaccination is the best way to protect children. It is safe and effective in preventing diarrheal disease caused by rotavirus”- Dr. Collins Tabu

Ahead of the introduction of the vaccine, the Ministry of Health has been  involved in the training health workers, procuring vaccines, increasing  the cold chain for vaccine storage, and advocacy with other stakeholders.

Rotavirus can spread easily. Good hygiene such as hand washing and general cleanliness are important but are not enough to control the spread of the disease. Rotavirus vaccines are very effective in preventing rotavirus gastroenteritis (inflammation of the stomach and intestines) and the accompanying diarrhea and other symptoms. This simply means, save the July date and ensure that your child, your niece or nephew or even your friend’s or neighbour’s child get this important vaccine that will surely reduce the suffering and deaths of our children.

Kenya will be joining other countries that have introduced rotavirus vaccines. In USA for example, rotavirus vaccine was introduced for U.S infants in 2006 and since 2011, countries such as Sudan, Ghana, Rwanda, Yemen, Malawi, Armenia, Tanzania, Georgia, Haiti, Gambia, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Zambia and Burundi have as well introduced rotavirus vaccines into their national immunization programmes.

A part from vaccine, other existing interventions that are necessary and effective in fighting diarrhea include: oral rehydration solutions, zinc supplements, clean water and sanitation and exclusive breastfeeding which is considered naturally sterile.

I clapped all the way home after the announcement for two reasons, first, majority of Kenyans are poor and though the vaccine is available it is not affordable for all since you should have at least 5k for your baby to get the 2 doses therefore this free vaccine means more poor babies will be protected. Secondly, the introduction of rotavirus vaccine can help our dear country Kenya to get closer to reaching MDG4 even though we are 7 months close to 2015, considering that Rotavirus is the leading cause of death due to diarrhea in children under five, taking the lives of more than 450,000 each year.

Vaccine is equal to life and with rotavirus vaccine; many children will be able to survive beyond 5 years to at least validate their already valid dreams.

 

 

 

Follow me on Twitter

Follow me on Twitter