|Wednesday, 24 March 2004|
Piling on childbirth pangs
Gender Dialogue by Nadira Gunatilleke
Pregnancy and childbirth are two natural stages of every woman's life. Sri Lankan women face these two experiences with different emotions under different types of treatment from others. It is interesting to learn how some women confront those experiences as it will be a good message to the other women who are waiting to face same.
According to some married women the main reason behind their decision to become mothers was the unbearable pressure put on them by their husbands, close family members, relations and friends. "We sacrificed our higher education, chances to get promotions in the job and especially our creativity to become mothers. Today we are happy to see our children growing up but we are frustrated over what happened to us in the past", they added.
Sometimes the same people put pressure on pregnant women during their pregnancy and control them by preventing them from living their normal lives and engaging in their usual tasks. Another pathetic situation is that some people think that it should always be a natural birth and should not be a caesarian operation unless it is complicated.
Their argument is mothers need to give birth in the natural way and experience the pain to build a strong bond with the child. But where on earth are mothers needed to undergo all the pain when there is a better and easy way out? This is one of their rights, to avoid pain.
Some pregnant women travel with their children alone. No person is there to help them. Not even their husbands. Whenever a pregnant woman gets into public transport service she gets a seat after looking here and there after a few minutes.
Even people who are seated in the section specially allocated for the pregnant women do not offer the seat to them. On some occasions pregnant women get into fully packed buses just after the starting point (main bus stand) believing that they could definitely get a seat. This is not so. Some pregnant women cause annoyance to others thinking that they have a right to do so. This also cannot be justified.
According to some mothers who gave birth to their children at some State Maternity Hospitals that was one of their most unpleasant and unforgettable experiences. It is believed that giving birth to a child is the most painful experience of a woman's life.
When a pregnant woman gets admitted to a State hospital to give birth, often she is treated like trash. Most of the time mothers have to undergo verbal abuse of attendants, nurses and others. They forget that they were also born the same way. They also forget that they have had children or will be having them in the future.
The verbal abuse includes filth. "Ha! you are screaming for nothing... stop screaming... you try to be a baby... Do not try to be babyish... Do not scream and disturb others... You will not die, so stop screaming...". Those are some of publishable things that are used to abuse pregnant women. No mental solace is being given to them. No kind word, no sympathetic glance or attention is given to them.
Several pregnant women and their new-borns were killed due to the negligence of medical staff in the past. Husbands demanded full investigations and inquiries were conducted. But the possibility of pregnant women getting killed due to negligence remains due to a lack of rules and regulations in maternity hospitals that prevent staff from acting stubbornly.
The staff of State hospitals know that no one can complain against them and even when a complain is made there will not be an inquiry or any other 'problem' for them. No matter what they do or say they receive their pay packet at the end of every month without any damage. Rich pregnant mothers seek the medical care of private hospitals and get the best treatment they can get by paying good money.
They get all types of comforts and give birth to children without any heartache. The staff of those hospitals know that if a patient makes a complaint they have to face numerous problems including termination. They also know that there are lots of unemployed qualified persons out there to take their place.
It is the responsibility of women to take action against whoever mistreats them and to fight for justice. It is the responsibility of the relevant authorities to take necessary action to discipline maternity hospital staff before ill-treated patients' husbands or relations take revenge from them at a personal level.
Produced by Lake House