What would you do if you were ill and hospitalized but had to come out of your ward to fetch your medicine and food? How would you react to such situation when in labor pain your husband is not allowed to meet you and what if he is the only family member around?

Such is the situation of most of the men and women in Nepal. Few days ago I was in the hospital to meet one of my friends' wife who was admitted in the maternity ward where my friend along with the male family members were not allowed to enter or visit the patient. The most absurd thing about this rule is that in the absence of female family member or friend, the patient in labor pain has to come outside of the ward, if able walk around 10-15 steps or if unable in a wheel chair to fetch her food and medicine during her stay in the hospital. Nuclear family in Kathmandu is growing day by day but family members and friends do support during the time of crisis. But the major responsibilities lie within the couple it has been the bugging issues for both women and men. Likewise, Kathmandu being one of the major city hubs, large number of people migrates from villages and due to the armed conflict number of internal migrants has increased tremendously. Those migrants from villages neither have close relatives nor friends in such situation their problem is even more severe.

Moreover, husbands are also not allowed in the labor room while his wife gives birth to their child. Keeping a husband away from the pain that his wife endures to give birth to their child is in a way not providing moral support to the wife. This process not only keeps men aloof from their child but also keeps him away from the pain that the women goes through while giving birth. In a way, they never know to which extent women goes to give birth to their child and as they do not know what it is they never tend to respect women and the pain she endures to continue their generation.

Not only hospitals but in the places where women give birth in the house there also men are not allowed to enter while women gives birth. The hospitals are meant to be the healing centre not the place where people are even more burdened so the hospitals should re-consider their policies. At the same time the hospitals have these rules because men in maternity ward gets more frightened by looking at the patients' situation and often times they have had fight with the hospitals' administration as they cannot bear to see the pain that women are going through. There have been cases in the maternity ward where a husband raped his wife in the hospital itself the day after she gave birth to their child. He not only raped his wife but also raped other women who were in the maternity ward. These rape cases are exceptional and exceptions can be anywhere.

Both the parties, patient and hospital have their own issue and they both are right at their places. But still there is a common ground where the problems can be solved. If men cannot be allowed in the maternity ward because of the huge number of women in labor pain then that is understandable. As the society is not liberal enough to accommodate men in this process so having a stranger might even escalate women's pain. But the hospitals should have provisions to provide food and medicine to the patient at her bed itself and the husbands should be allowed to meet their wives under strict supervision. And the most important thing is husbands should be allowed to be with their wives as she gives birth to their child to acquaint men with the process and the pain women go through to continue their generation.

Comment on this Post


Hi Anjana,

You have showed me so much about the issue of men and women sharing the birthing process together and what it can be like for a woman to give birth alone, without the support of her partner. I too believe that a man should be present to support his partner while she gives birth to their child, if he wishes to do so. And witnessing the pain can be an important experience for a man to fully grasp a woman's journey in bearing children with it's full scope of both pain and joy. What will it take for this to change in Nepal?

I always enjoy your writing Anjana!

Warm regards, Jade

Anjana, Namaskar. Hajur la kasto cha? This was fascinating reading and throughout your piece, I sat incredulous as I had no idea of the conditions and restrictions pregnant women face in the hospitals. It seems as if many logistic changes must be put in place before the situation can improve and I'm sure staffing is just one barrier to improving services. Are hospitals state-run or privately owned? I imagine the latter and that a lack of resources has lead to a number of these decisions. I hope that in time they will see that policies need to change for the welfare of the patients but in you speaking out, so many more people now are aware this situation and perhaps one will speak to a friend who may have another friend who may have some influence in bringing these matters to the attention of the right people. You never know....

Thanks for sharing this with us all. Hardik subhakamana, Janice