Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Giving Birth in a Third World Country

One of our good friends Natalia had her first child last week, a baby girl named Anai. Natalia is the counselor at the high school and has become a great friend and counterpart. After her and the baby arrived to Chaco, Gregg and I headed over to her mom’s house to visit. Since I doubt I will ever have the giving birth experience here, I’ll share a little bit of Natalia’s.

- Natalia’s water broke Friday afternoon at the high school. She headed over to the public hospital 45-minues away, where there is practically free health care.

- After 24-hours of “ugly labor,” she gave birth to Anai. Anesthetics are NEVER used here during births.

- After giving birth, she and the baby were placed in a small room with two other patients: a woman with pregnancy complications and a young boy with a leg infection.

- Visitors are allowed in the room only for a couple of minutes. The hospital is full enough with all the patients, let alone visitors.

- The doctors and nurses in the rural hospitals are usually very young and doing their equivalent of residency. According to Natalia, they didn’t seem to know what they were doing and had very little patience.

- The day after giving birth, Natalia was informed that the entire placenta had not come out during the birth. The doctors opened her back up and did a “cleaning.”

- After the “cleaning” the nurse made her walk around and yelled at her if she didn’t clean up the blood fast enough that was running down her leg. Then after all this pain, the nurse took her blood pressure on the same arm as where she had an IV. As blood was running up the tube, she yelled at the nurse to stop.

- During the night as her newborn cried, the other patients in the room yelled at her to get the baby to shut up.

- Of course, she was very happy to get back to El Chaco, where her mom and husband can now be with her and the baby.

- I asked Natalia why she didn’t go to the Catholic hospital in El Chaco. She said because it is too expensive. A normal birth costs $80, plus $40 each day of hospitalization.

Maternity Leave

- It doesn’t really exist! Natalia now has 4-weeks of paid maternity leave-literally paid. During her four weeks off, Natalia has to pay for a substitute in the high school. She is just happy to have four weeks off. With many other jobs, women only get two weeks.

1 comment:

Dan said...

Ecuador does have maternity leave, i got 3 months paid and later on i could leave my job 2 hours earlier for 9 months. It is the law here. I dont think it's the same in the US, but every woman who has social security has access to maternity leave in Ecuador. Perhaps your friend had no social security number.