The harsh truth about pregnancy in Africa

There is no celebration. There is no baby shower. There is no gender reveal party. There is no maternity photos. There is very little talk about the pregnancy.

o-BIRTH-900
Photo Credit

There is fear. There is despair. There is a small glimmer of hope. There is few, if any, doctor visits. The time slowly ticks by.

In the last few days my heart has rejoiced and mourned. My eyes have been opened wider to the struggles of the pregnant women of Tanzania face. Two of my neighbors have given birth.IMG_6540

But only one holds a baby in her arms.

One has laid her baby in a grave. The men of the community went door to door to collect each other to help prepare the grave. There was little talk. I could feel the heaviness in the air.

This other Mama, the one who holds her baby close. The one I didn’t even know was pregnant until two months before she delivered. She knows all too well that the woman burying her baby could have been her. Even her delivery was not easy. At 3 am she walked all the way across town with her husband, and two local grandmothers to reach the hospital. A walk that probably took about 2 hours, while she was experiencing contractions and labor pains. When she arrived at the hospital, her little girl was born in no time. She’s still not out of the woods though, as many as 1 in 10 children will die before their 5th birthday. Around 32% of all under-5 deaths occur in the first 28 days of life.(unicef)

Photo Credit: Unicef
Photo Credit: Unicef

I should understand. After all I’ve been with Neema House for about a year and a half now. We’ve received countless babies whose mother’s have died in child birth. We’ve heard stories of the babies who didn’t make it. I’ve seen the rows of beds in the premature ward of the government hospital. Beds full of babies barely weighing a pound. Babies whose skin is so thin I can see their little bones.IMG_6122-001

My heart is heavy. The air is heavy. But there is still hope. There is still light.

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21 thoughts on “The harsh truth about pregnancy in Africa

  1. This brought me to tears. Thank you for sharing. As someone who is 32 weeks pregnant with my second, I so often take for granted how insanely easy we have it here in America. Now, when I go into labor, I’ll remember how blessed I am simply to have a hospital minutes away. Thank you for sharing on such an important issue.

  2. Reading your post was like reading the words out of a storybook, but the fact is this is a reality. I’ll be praying for these women that face these hardships. Your post also puts in perspective that North American pregnancys are almost glorified and not everyone has the things that North Americans have. I loved reading your post and I’m glad you are working at making a difference in theses women’s lives.

  3. Pingback: On being pregnant in Africa… – Mzungu Masai

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