Happy New Year 2080!
Happy New Year 2080!

Nepali New Year begins in mid-April – it is now 2080 in Nepal! Our maternity ward never gets a public holiday though – eight babies were born on New Year’s Day this year. One of the mothers had a story of longing, hope, expectation, anticipation, and joy.

Srijana is 39 years old. When she was around 18 months old, she developed a problem that caused paraparesis – weakness of both legs. During childhood her legs developed deformities making it difficult for her to walk, but she could walk with a stick. In traditional society here, people with disabilities are often marginalised and unable to access the opportunities available to others*. Life for Srijana would have been difficult and her prospects of marriage low. However, 18 months ago she did finally marry at the age of 37, and within a year she became pregnant.

We first met Srijana when she was 31 weeks pregnant. At 39 years of age, being pregnant increases the risks of having complications. However, at her first examination, both she and the unborn baby presented as normal, and again eight weeks later. The baby had good growth. She elected to stay in our Mothers’ Waiting Home. Pregnant women can stay here in the hospital grounds as the time for delivery approaches, avoiding long travel on bad roads during labour and receiving care as soon as labour starts. The expectant mothers develop a bond with each other – eating together, taking health and nutrition classes together and encouraging each other.

When Srijana was six days overdue, she was admitted to the hospital to induce labour. In the back of our minds we wondered whether she could have a normal birth because of her leg paraparesis. Soon after labour started her waters broke; she had stronger contractions but progressed slowly in labour. At the next examination, there was concern that there was ‘face presentation’ or ‘brow presentation’, conditions where the baby’s neck is extended and the head is tilted right back. This position means normal vaginal birth is difficult or impossible.

The decision was made to do a caesarean section. A live baby girl was delivered. It had indeed been a brow presentation – the baby’s forehead had been coming first down the birth canal and was quite swollen. Apart from that, the baby appeared healthy. As the operation was finishing we congratulated the mother on the arrival of a healthy daughter… and were rewarded with the widest smile ever seen on the face of a new mum! In the Nepali language Srijana means ‘creation’.

For our staff, it is a true blessing to share in the joy of new life. It’s God’s work, not ours.

Key Highlights

  • 3,500 outpatient visits per month (on average)
  • 100 births per month (approx.) of which around
  • 15 are Caesarean sections. The hospital participates in the Government of Nepal’s Safe Motherhood programme which provides financial support. Maternity services at OCH are free of charge for the mothers.
  • 213 expectant mothers stayed at the Mothers’ Waiting Home in the 9 months to April 2023
  • We have recently employed an orthopaedic surgeon; our orthopaedic services have increased and our physiotherapy department is busier.

* Our Community-Based Rehabilitation programme seeks to rectify this.

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