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The screaming you see on TV...

Having Leon was not only life-changing but also a blessing that I will forever be thankful for. I should say that for the longest of time, I was afraid of delivery especially after watching women giving birth in the moves and listening to mothers speak about their experience; I am sure most women are. In addition, I was also afraid of the weight that comes with carrying a baby for nine months, pregnancy pimples and hair loss during breast feeding, the list goes on and on.

My first three months of pregnancy were very scary, I bled a lot during the first trimester. I remember the first time I went to the toilet and found blood I rushed to a nearby hospital and I recall very well the doctor telling me it’s a threatened abortion. It was a young doctor, if I am not mistaken probably around her mid 20’s. After the ultrasound, I sat in the waiting room with my husband saying all sorts of prayers. The door was slightly open; she had called her fellow doctors and I could see them trying to open text books to interpret the ultrasound! To cut the story short, they gave me a report saying "Threatened abortion; please come in and see the gynecologist tomorrow".

I swore never to go back to that hospital. I left and wet straight to an old gynecologist that I have known for a while. He gave me assurance that the baby is very fine and that bleeding is normal. He advised that I keep healthy, eat well and everything will be OK.I would say that for me what I learnt from this was that young inexperienced doctors should never be left alone on shifts. The rest of pregnancy went well. I was very lucky to do this pregnancy thing with my young sister Dinah. She was 7 weeks ahead of me. She is married to a very supportive Doctor Nicholas. All I did was follow everything she did. She got us with a Doula Gigi who now works with Malketha Maternal services. God bless that lady! Gigi held delivery sessions for the last 8 weeks of pregnancy that helped to prepare us mentally for natural child birth. She gave me a book called Supernatural Childbirth that had prayers. I said those prayers almost every second like my life depended on them. In my opinion, every woman needs to read this book. I had the prayers on my phone too. In the labor room when things got intense, I remember telling my husband to say those prayers, and to read them aloud!

TMR hospital was my hospital of choice. GOD bless the owner and the staff there. I tell you the truth, labor is not a joke, but with the right support around you, right mind set, very serene environment, I should say, that pain is not so painful after all. I had my Mum, my husband and Evelyne a midwife with me. My gynecologist came in an hour before delivery.

Evelyne was so supportive; she kept checking, gave me back massages, and said all the positive words I needed to hear. I won’t say much about the labor room at TMR hospital, you just need to go and see it yourself. I promise you; you won’t give birth anywhere else. This is not an advert FYI!!

I remember the last 3 minutes before I gave birth to my Prince Leon. I will never forget what Evelyne told me. She said, "Forget about the screaming you see on TV and listen to me. The baby is here just be strong and give me three strong pushes, we shall have our baby with us". She was very right. Well I didn’t get the baby after three pushes, but on the fourth push, Leon was born. Giving birth was not actually painful for me, but what was painful was the process of labor (Gigi, my Doula always preferred to call it pressure of the baby moving downwards).

I am very proud to be part of the Malketha Maternal services. At Malketha, we believe that maternal mental health is one of the key fundamental aspect for a healthy baby. Every woman deserves a good birth experience, whether natural birth or cesarean birth. Birth is the beginning of motherhood and I personally believe that a good experience and proper health care reduces the risk of post-natal depression.

Leon is over a year old now. If you ask me if I will have another baby; definitely yes! I am looking forward to having a baby girl, God-willing. Will I have an epidural for that? I will definitely think about it. Maybe yes; maybe no. Je ne sais pas.

About the author

Doreen Basangwa is the consultant regulatory pharmacist at Malketha Maternal Services and a seasoned program manager with  experience working to strengthen Uganda’s health systems. With a Bachelors in Pharmacy from Manipal University India and a Masters in Business Administration from Herriot University, she advocates for physical, mental and emotional fitness.

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