Pregnancy in Nairobi slums is matter of life and death for many :: Kenya


Eunice Atieno. Photo: Jenipher Wachie, Standard

It was a chilly Tuesday, and just like the weather Eunice Atieno felt a chill run down her spine. She had just left Medihep Hospital in Mukuru slums for a checkup following a miscarriage. Bearing a loss, especially the loss of a child, is not easy.

The Friday before this particular hospital visit, Eunice had felt a sharp searing pain in her lower abdomen. She also noticed some liquid leaking out through her birth canal. She was about six months pregnant. She also started experiencing labour pains. Eunice was confused because she thought she was only about three or four months pregnant.

Labour persisted. Come Sunday, the pain had increased. So, she did what she would do in such situations: go to a traditional birth attendant. But the woman with the ancient birthing skills did not offer her much help. The next day, on a Monday, as she lay in her house, a sharp pain descended to her pelvis and she pushed.

“Water poured out and the baby came out with it. The baby was fully formed but dead,” she says.

She cleared the foetus up, hoping that the pain would subsequently subside and the placenta would follow.


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The traditional birth attendant unsuccessfully tried to squeeze the placenta from Eunice’s womb. The experience only left her screaming in pain.

“I can’t afford to pay for services at a hospital. The traditional birth attendant only asked for Sh50 from me. We are not rich,” she says.

Not first option

Except for one, all of Eunice’s children were delivered by a traditional birth attendant.

But now she was at the hospital. It turned out, to her chagrin, that the traditional birth attendant could not remove the retained placenta.

“Eunice’s husband brought her to the hospital today in the morning,” Geofrey Momanyi, Medihep’s chief administrator said.

“When things take a turn for the worse that is when many come to…

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