Easy tips on shopping for a gynaecologist

Most people love to shop be it for clothes, shoes, handbags, utensils the list is endless. I am one notorious one especially when it comes to shoes and this reminds me of an incidence the other day when my husband send me to buy some essentials only for my shoes to throw tantrums while on Harambee Avenue Nairobi City that I had to get into the nearest stall and buy myself very nice (but quite expensive) shoes. Filled with ‘justifiable shame-on-me’ feeling, I reported myself immediately my husband arrived home and as usual, he laughed it off with an I-know-you-love-shoes kind of look! Anyway that’s a story for another date with the girls.

There are tens of thousands if not millions tips on how to shop in order to save some cash. Who after all doesn’t want to get the best deal for their money especially during these tough economic times?

By virtue of being a self-appointed maternal, newborn and children health advocate, I will spare shopping for a hair stylist, nail artist or interior designer for now and go straight into shopping for one very important service provider for any woman; a gynaecologist.

gynecologist photo 2

Different reasons initiate a hunt for a new gynae for example life events such as relocation, new job which means new insurance cover with new list of service providers in their panel, retirement of your doctor or simply ‘divorcing’ the one you have because he/she is too busy or incompetent for your liking (oops!).

So, how do you go about your shopping for that service provider that is not only essential but beyond essential to any woman especially when pregnant? I have compiled 3 step easy-to-use-easy-to-apply tips on how to go about it. Hope it helps.

Step one: Operation make a list 

You definitely want a ‘good’ gynae right? Then start by defining what ‘good’ means to you because what is good to another woman may not necessarily be good to you.

A simple tip in defining ‘good’ is by making a list of the traits that are important to you in a gynaecologist. For starters, your list might include the 3 important Es: Education, Experience and Expertise. This is simply when and where the physician received his/ her training; how long he/she has been practicing and his/ her area of expertise for example prenatal care, obstetric, infertility etc.

Other factors worth considering include:

  • Gender– consider your preference; are you more comfortable with a female or male physician?
  • Cost– is the physician in the panel of your insurance service providers or is his/ her consultation fees reasonable and affordable enough if you do not have a cover or if he/she is not in the panel of your insurance service providers?
  • Affiliated hospitals– you likely will want a physician who has practicing privileges at your preferred hospitals or those hospitals that your insurance has approved as a service provider.

Step two: Operation ‘window’ shop

Now that you have your list in mind, what follows is to embark on operation window shopping around. Just the same way you ask friends or go to safaricom centers for example to look for that perfect phone or laptop with your specifications, do the same for a gynae. Ask for referrals from female family members, friends, neighbours, other doctors or trusted co-workers. If you belong to an online support group you can ask the group members for their recommendation. The tip here is, if the same names of gynae resurface, there are good chances of having a shortlist of professionals with solid reputations.

Step Three: Operation schedule an appointment

One thing I know is that every woman says that her gynae is the best I am yet to find one who doesn’t feel the same about her gynae. But as I said earlier, ‘good’ or ‘best’ is subjective and relative it is only through a scheduled appointment with the said gynae that you will know if he/she is worth engaging or not.

It is important to remember that it may take more than one visit for you and your new doctor to establish a comfortable relationship. But if it doesn’t happen, trust your instincts and find another gynae. You should never feel obligated to continue seeing a gynae if you are uneasy especially about his/ her availability, flexibility, listening skills etc.

gynecologist photo

Once you have found the right gynae, be good; spread the word for it might be just the referral someone else out there is looking for. All the best in your hunting venture.


The ‘road’ to safe motherhood in Mwingi


As a maternal, newborns and children’s health advocate, you once in a while get an opportunity to leave the comfort of Nairobi to go to the field and see firsthand the state of maternal health in the country.

Mwingi was the destination this time round. For starters, Mwingi is a town in the Eastern Province of Kenya approximately 200Km east of Nairobi. Our visit was to two health facilities; Nyaani Dispensary and Kakululo Dispensary where the ‘putting African Mothers, Newborns and Children First’ project is currently implemented by AMREF Health Africa under the European Union funding.

Sister Damaris attending to Lena who is 27 weeks pregnant.

Sister Damaris attending to Lena who is 27 weeks pregnant.

Under this project, AMREF Health Africa provides on-going training and support for Community Health Workers, who are from time to time given guidance on how to encourage behavioural change within communities, to help the local population better understand how to stay healthy. In Nyaani dispensary for example, 50 Community Health Workers have since been trained. The CHW visit the community and refer pregnant women to the dispensary so that they can be attended to by a skilled attendant. I found this very encouraging considering that there is a global shortage of 7.2 million midwives, nurses and doctors, one of the reasons why51 percent of births in Sub-Saharan Africa are not attended to by a midwife or other properly qualified health worker.

Mwingi is one of the counties in Kenya where many women still deliver at home and without the assistance of trained birth attendants despite the fact that trained birth attendants at delivery are important for preventing both maternal and newborn deaths. According to Sister Damaris Wanjiru the only midwife who also couples as the community nurse of Nyaani Dispensary, there were only 4 deliveries in the month of June a way too small a number compared to the number of children brought to the facility for immunization and other services!

‘Pregnant women come for antenatal but  they suddenly disappear only to reappear next time with babies. When you inquire further why they did not come to deliver at the dispensary they simply tell you the distance from their home to the dispensary is too long and they feared they could deliver on the road’ said Sister Damaris

Sister Damaris agrees that poor road infrastructure and the distance to the dispensary is a major reason for many women still preferring to give birth with the help of a traditional birth attendant. Nyaani is in the remotest, poorest and isolated place approximately 100km from Mwingi town and of the 100km, only 30km is tarmac the rest is rough road.

A woman going to look for water

A woman going to look for water

Here, an obstetrician, basic means of transport and water are considered a great luxury. Women here, whether expectant or not do a lot of manual work like herding and walking over 10km everyday to fetch water. The lucky ones at least have donkeys to carry the water and the not so lucky ones carry the water on their backs.

Poor families often cannot afford the cost of transport to health facilities and walking, even during labour remains the primary mode of transportation for women and this severely limits their ability to reach the needed care during laboring and birthing.

In the event that the midwife detects complications early she refers the women to Mwingi district hospital which has better facilities and more staff. In other cases, women wait until they are unable to deliver on their own due to complications before rushing to the dispensary.  Getting an ambulance becomes a hustle due to network problem. Even when she finally gets the much needed ambulance, it takes up to 4 hours for the woman to reach the district hospital as the road is rough, and the ambulance has to cross river beds and difficult paths that are impassable during  rainy seasons.


Majority of maternal and newborn deaths result from a combination of biological, medical and social factors which are inextricably linked and with less than 6 months to 2015 the year in which countries should have reduced maternal deaths by 75 percent, I strongly believe that improved transport and roads for poor, rural and isolated communities coupled with interventions supported by organizations such AMREF Health Africa, will greatly contribute to reducing maternal and child mortality rates in Kenya.










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