This story was featured on the cover of the Daily Monitor.
On a cold drizzly night at about 11pm in Kakindo Village, Kiboga District, the pangs of her labour started. 23-year-old Jennifer Nabakooza, who lives with her mother, shared her harrowing ordeal, which started with transport woes to the nearest health centre, five kilometers away.
“It was around 11:30 p.m. when we tried to look for a boda-boda, but even the one that was available had no fuel. So, we had to wait a little longer for the man to first refuel then come and pick me up.”
“Finally, the boda-boda came as it was approaching midnight and the pain had increased but I still got onto the motorcycle, However, along the way the pain became excruciating and I requested him to stop and I get off,” narrated Jennifer.
“I was in so much pain and the boda-boda rider helped me to the side of the road. The drizzle had ceased but it was very cold and I started pushing for the baby to come out.”
While she was at it, the boda-boda rider called the nearest health centre, Mujunza Health Centre II which is about five kilometers of winding, ragged and muddy dirt road from her home and asked them for help.
“Luckily enough, I had contact of Adnan Asumani, the Village Ambulance rider and I handed over my phone to the boda-boda rider to make the call,” she says.
Meanwhile I felt too much pain. At some point, it felt like I needed to answer the call of nature. I supported my stomach and put my hand on my back as I pushed. Then, I lay on my back next to a gaping ditch by the roadside. I had wrapped my waist with a kikoy and lay on it on the ground.
Within a few minutes after the phone call, the baby was delivered, however, he was still attached by the umbilical cord. It took some minutes before her body partly expelled the placenta.
“I have never felt like that my entire life. I thought I would die, Nabakooza says. The boda-boda man was on phone most of the time and kept telling me to be patient.”
“I held up my baby to my belly with one hand, I was so scared and used the other to hold my thing (the placenta) between my legs.”
The Village Ambulance dispatched by the health centre arrived past 3 a.m., same time as her old mother who was acting as her caretaker and had been called in to assist.
Together with Asumani, they quickly but carefully helped Nabakooza to clean the baby, with the placenta craddled between her legs. Nabakooza’s mother held the placenta and helped the new mother in the the Village Ambulance and they set off to the health centre.
“I do not remember much at that point, except for feeling like I was floating in the air while aboard the Village Ambulance. I had seen it before, but I had never taken a ride or used anything like it,” she recounts.
In the developing world only 58 percent of births are attended by a skilled assistant, such as a midwife, nurse or doctor, according to the UNFPA.