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Uganda’s Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) had remained high for 15 years, with no significant decline 435 deaths per 100,000 live births. This Maternal Mortality Ratio translates to about 6,000 women dying every year due to pregnancy related causes. This is because while a significant proportion of maternal deaths occur in the health facilities, there are over 62% of pregnant women delivering without skilled care either by themselves or in the hands of unskilled workers. When the women I was expecting my fourth child and I obediently visited my doctor for regular Anti Natal Care checks. I had no complains at all. On this particular day, I started my labour pains and took a taxi to the hospital to deliver my baby. This is the biggest hospital in the country. My labour progressed well.

But to my surprise the nurses who were supposed to be checking on me at night were also sleeping despite the fact that I kept calling for their assistance. By morning I had not delivered but instead the labour pains where not progressing. My doctor (a prominent gynecologist in the city) had not even come to check on my despite the fact that she knew that her patient was in labour.

I remember a nurse coming to check on me and in panic administered ‘epitosin’ to me. This is to fasten the progress of labor. Indeed I delivered. But I straight away asked the nurse why the baby did not cry. She answered, that the baby was too weak and that they were taking it to the emergency room. In deed I believed so. At this moment I asked the nurse if I could do tubal legation since I had achieved the number of children I desired.

I demanded to see the baby after about 2-3 hours then a young female doctor broke the sad news to me that my baby was dead. It was a very trying moment for me…… At this moment my doctor appeared and was not ashamed to ask me ‘What happened?’ I just could not respond this kind of question.

It’s is not for the sake of it that women are asking governments to look into maternal and child health issues. I have been is such an experience. Two years later I was blessed with twin boys ( I thank god for this miracle babies). But my experience in the health facility tells us why very many mothers in Uganda (about 62%) still prefer to deliver at home in the hands of traditional birth attendants.

Take action! This post was submitted in response to eMagazine: Maternal Health .

Comment on this Post


Hi, Thank you for sharing your story here. It sounds as if the strength that was within you was given the opportunity to rise through the loss of your baby. I understand why women prefer to birth at home, as your story illustrates, the construction of fancy facilities is not the only way to reduce MMR...I see there is a deeper rooted issue. I'm so happy to know that women such as yourself will be empowering other women toward safe, respectful and gentle births! Peace, Carrie

Thank you Carrie. I believe your book will be very useful in highlighting the real issues surrounding maternal health in the world.

Grace Ikirimat "It takes the hammer of persistence to drive the nail of success."

Grace- I'm in awe of your strength. It is inconceivable to me how difficult it is to survive and also, persevere through such a loss. And yet, you did. Your courage and experience must define you as a credible voice for safe childbirth-- and whatever that means for families in Uganda. And you birthed twins at home!? Incredible and inspiring. Thank you, Caitlin

Your story was personal, and passionate. While I am pained to hear of your loss, I am so grateful for your strength to share it. The world need to hear more stories like this, so we can progress! Thank you & blessings

A heart-wrenching story, and one that inspires us to work harder to improve maternal health care and a commitment to women's rights and health. Thank you for sharing your story!

This article appeared in the New Vision Newspaper of 07th March 2011 and the article was written by Cornes Lubangakene. This is to share other womens voices on maternal health as we celebrate women's day.

Negligence and rudeness of the health workers to mothers during delivery are some of the factors contributing to maternal deaths, a cross-section of women have said. They said this during a women’s dialogue on maternal health, targeting service providers, recipients and women leaders.

The dialogue was organized by Uganda women parliamentary association (UWOPA), ahead of women’s day celebrations at pearl Afrique hotel in Gulu on Saturday. “The midwives are sometimes rude to the women in labour. This kind of behavoiour in most health centers and hospitals makes some women lose hope in delivering in health facilities,” Winfred Oloya a resident of Laroo, said. Evelyn Ayaa, a traditional birth attendant said: “some women fear to go to health centers because of the experience they had or heard from their friends. Some health workers are rude and we the ones who used to help deliver at home.”

The women said much as the community is sensitized to seek medical attention from the health units during deliveries, there was need to sensitize the health workers on their roles. However, one of the health workers said most health centers were ill-equipped, making it difficult for them to handle complicated cases, hence leading to death.

While facilitating the dialogue, Sr Grace Adokorach of Gulu hospital, said there were several deliveries at the hospital and health centers. She said fatigue could affect their behavior.

Grace Ikirimat "It takes the hammer of persistence to drive the nail of success."