Home Births: Women Fail To Access Maternal Health Services during Covid
Giving birth at home can be a nightmare with serious effects on the mother and child. The COVID-19 Pandemic and the lockdown have taken a huge tow on pregnant women especially when it comes to access to health care facilities.
By Chiedza Mutyavaviri
Tambudzai Hunidzarira (38) from Southlea Park, Harare is amongst the pregnant women who failed to access healthcare services for her pregnancy. "I gave birth to my sixth child at home because I did not have money to pay for the hospital bills," Hunidzarira explains.
Pregnant women are considered to be vulnerable as they have a risk of dying before or after giving birth due to various complications. Cases of home births could have increased during the lockdown without anyone noticing because of a lot of reasons. The leading reason is that some people lost their jobs due to COVID 19, hence failing to afford maternal healthcare services, especially those who do not get financial support from anyone.
"My husband is struggling to provide for the family and paying for the hospital bills was impossible which forced me to give birth at home." Narrated Hunidzarira while in physical pain.
In a press statement, Unicef says pregnant mothers and babies born during the COVID 19 pandemic are threatened by strained health systems and some may fail to access health services as they fail to pay the costs.
Giving birth at home without the supervision of trained health personnel increases the risks of postpartum complications which can lead to the death of both the mother and the child.
Hunidzarira narrates that she did not get healthcare services up to the present moment."My greatest concern at the moment is my health and that of my child, I have lost a lot of blood and I'm not eating proper food. I am worried that I might have serious complications but I have no other choice than to seat at home and wait for fate."
"During delivering my baby, I was helped by a fellow woman from a neighboring suburb of Hopely but since then I have not been well." Says Hunidzarira. Failure to access health care service has affected Hunidzarira so much that she is not able to walk and she believes something went wrong during the home delivery as the child had not fully turned. Hunidzarira says she needs to see a doctor due to the condition she is in now.
A survey done by The Zimbabwe Demographic Health Survey shows that 20% of pregnant women in Zimbabwe do home deliveries. Maternal healthcare services should be made affordable and easily accessible to women especially during a crisis to avoid an increased number of maternal deaths or stillbirths.