Thursday 18 May 2017

Speak out and save the next person

Image result for chisom anekwe

Hardly does a week go by without one learning of a maternal death in Nigeria. Today the Nigerian media is awash with the news of a certain Chisom Anekwe, her travails at Magodo Specialist Hospital in Lagos, and her eventual death under completely shocking circumstances; going by the version of the story in circulation. Just like in almost every such case, people come out and recall their experiences from similar encounters with health practitioners who handle human lives with laxity and the question one always asks is  "so what did you do?", one almost always gets answers like  "nothing oh, at least I was grateful to have survived " or " reporting the doctor or nurse would have made him/her lose her job and I wouldn't want that" bla bla bla....   Answers which leave so much to be desired. A health practitioner's job and someone's life which should rank higher in importance?

It all boils down to our selfishness. It is always me, my children, my loved ones. We hardly think of the next person.  Selfishness is the main reason why we are where we are today. What happened to altruism? What happened to saving the next person? Magodo Specialist Hospital probably did what they did because they had gotten away with so many such cases, same with every health practitioner that handles human life with laxity. Though laxity permeates almost every sector of the Nigerian society, not all cases cost human lives.

A woman during childbirth in one of our "prestigious" teaching hospitals was given an episiotomy that cut through her anus and when asked what she did she said, "I was thankful for little mercies and didn't want to push it".  You lose someone under questionable circumstances and all you say is " will my action bring back the dead?" or "it is the will of God". What happened to comments like "No one else should be allowed to go through this"?

You may not have the money to seek legal redress but there are authorities you can report to; everyone has a superior even if the superior in question is a regulatory body. Do something let it be that nothing came out of your efforts. Today we are lucky to have the internet and social media, use them. Let your voice be heard. Tell your story.  There are media houses that will be very willing to carry the news. Just do something to prevent another occurrence; not just because of yourself but because of the next person. Even if the regulatory bodies end up doing nothing, you would have told the public your story and people would be mindful of such health outfits and experiences. Health and medical practitioners would also be careful because of the consequences and kind of publicity their laxity could generate in the event of the loss of a life. One way or the other,  you would have helped save at least one more person from the consequences of doctors' and nurses' carelessness.

Certainly, that hospital in Magodo would never remain the same again, at least not in the nearest future if they survive the current media onslaught. Many other such health outfits will also take precautions. More people now know where not to go to and what not to tolerate.

People get away with so many bad things because we let them to, which led to the vicious circle we find ourselves in today.  It happened to Chisom because the victims before her took it in their strides. Who knows who it will be tomorrow? Please let us stop the culture of licking our wounds in good faith and imbibe one of saving the next person. Let us join hands to ensure preventable deaths are prevented.

Thursday 4 May 2017

Memoirs of a Nigerian Mum: Discretion when buying baby's items in Nigeria

I read your post on expectant mums' checklist and thought  sharing  my experience could help an expectant mum out there.  Being a first-time mum can be quite tasking and if you have no prior experience handling babies you could be in for a lot of mistakes and surprises.

I had my first child last year. When it was time to start buying baby stuff I asked colleagues and friends with experience what I needed to buy and their approximate costs. I was shocked when a colleague told me she spent 120k on baby items, another said she went to market with 100k, spent it all and yet couldn't get all she had in mind. I braced up for the expense when I went to the market. Surprisingly, I bought everything I needed with just a little over 40k. Where did my colleagues' excesses come from?

In the market there are local and foreign versions of almost everything. I saw a local baby bath set of about 3k and a foreign one of about 10k, a local baby cabinet of 5k and foreign one of 16k, imported diapers of 17k a carton and Nigerian Pampers of about 2k for a jumbo pack and so many other items. When I inquired about the differences between the local and foreign versions, they bordered mostly on our love for foreign items. Why buy a foreign bath set when the local one will serve the same purpose  at almost a quarter of the price? Same with baby cabinet (which I didn't even buy as I figured out it wasn't a need) , why will I buy foreign diapers if the local one will be just as good? No be shit and wee-wee my baby wan use am for? I made up my mind to buy just one pack of Nigerian Pampers and watch my baby's reaction to it which would ultimately decide which diaper I would stick to in the long run.

Well, she is almost a year old now and I have found no reason to not use Nigerian Pampers.  I bought one local thermometer with 100 Naira which still serves till date as against one type of digital thermometer that costs above 1k. I bought a set of Cussons Baby toiletries which I have had no reason to regret yet, as against the advice to buy some foreign products which would have cost me like 10 times the amount I spent on the Cussons set. I bought good baby cloths, I looked more at durability and not whether it was foreign or local. I also considered the fact that babies outgrow their cloths so fast and wondered  why I should  spend so much on high-end cloths which my baby wouldn't even notice. The most important thing is to get the baby clothed.

At then end of the day, I spent much less and achieved same. My baby's skin is as beautiful as any baby's can be. At the end of the day, what is noticed is how healthy your baby looks and not which designer or foreign products  she/he is wearing or using. With the current economic situation in the country, I hope mums learn to use their discretion when spending, you do not have to follow the trend, get exactly what you need and that which you can afford.

Tuesday 2 May 2017

After birth comes the postpartum period. Here are things that may happen to a new mum after childbirth

Pregnancy is a beautiful thing but can also mean a lot of stress for you and your body. There is so much information (both good and bad) available about pregnancy and what it may entail.  At the end of pregnancy is what is usually called the Postpartum period filled with its own unique set of challenges. Pregnancy can so mess with your body that you fail to recognize your postpartum self. Some new mums get scared of their new bodies and often go back to their doctors with complaints  about things that often are normal.

Below are few things that could happen to you postpartum

(1) After birth contractions. Contrary to what many mums think, uterine contractions do not end in the labour room with the birth of your baby, it continues as the uterus tries getting back to its pre-pregnancy state. The contractions can get really painful and many mothers report increasingly painful afterbirth contractions with each subsequent child.  You tend to notice it more when you put your newborn to your breasts for feeding because a baby's suck triggers the release of the hormone oxytocin  which causes uterine contraction.   If the contractions get too painful , you could ask your midwife or doctor for some pain relief. But do not be alarmed as it is quite normal.

(2) A weak pelvic floor.  This is said to affect about one third of  new mums who had a vaginal birth. It could cause urine leaks when you cough or sneeze. Do not panic when it happens to you, it usually gets better by the time your postpartum period is over; that is 6 weeks after birth.

(3) Bleeding : Many mums-to-be know women bleed after birth but majority do not know to what extent the bleeding occurs. Woman, you will pass out a good amount of blood that you find yourself changing maternity pads about 5 times the first day . The blood may also come in thick clots, thicker than what most people see monthly as menstrual blood. Don't worry, you aren't hemorrhaging, at least your doctor or midwife would check the color and intensity of your bleeds at intervals the day after delivery and beyond to ensure it is normal. They may also inquire about the number of used pads you've disposed, and so long as they say it's okay then you should relax. The bleeding reduces with each passing day but could last for weeks. You will be needing maternity pads for the first few days after birth after which you can use sanitary pads when the bleeding has reduced to what you feel sanitary pads can handle.

(4). Breastfeeding may be difficult. The image most mums have of breastfeeding a child is that of simply putting the child to your breasts and voilĂ , the baby starts sucking. Well, after delivery you will know it is hard work. Though nature made it a bit easy by equipping new born babies with the 'rooting reflex' that ensures when their cheeks are stroked, they turn towards the direction of the stroke making sucking  motions. But you still have to ensure you get a correct latch else you will end up with sore nipples that make you cringe once it's time to breastfeed. You could ask your midwife to show you how to achieve a correct latch.
Image result for correct latch

Engorged breasts could also be a huge challenge that you find yourself begging your newborn to suck. When the mature milk finally comes in, you may also grapple with excess supply especially if you are practicing exclusive breastfeeding. Nursing pads can come in handy at such times.

(5) Putting in a diaper correctly could be challenging and could cause tear-jerking accidents. Many mums assume wearing a baby a diaper is easy till they need to do it. A seemingly simple thing could continually ruin your day or night till you learn to do it right. And newborn poo is not a sight you will love on your dress or mattress. If possible, practice putting a diaper on a baby before yours arrive to avoid embarrassing or tear-jerking accidents involving baby poo.

(6) Your belly will be big for a while and could look quite horrible like a deflated, rumpled  balloon. It will also look quite dark. It is not usually a beautiful sight but don't worry it clears gradually. Reversing the effects of a process that took about 9 months does not happen overnight. You should learn to appreciate your postpartum body because it is your warrior scar; a reminder that you partook in the miracle of creating a human like you.

(7) Postpartum blues. Many women expect to feel elated after birth. Well it isn't always the case. Some even report not wanting to hold their babies at first. Relax, the love for your baby isn't always as mushy and immediate as we often imagine it to be, it can come after a while. You may also not feel 100 percent normal and could cry easily without provocation. This can be quite normal and is called Postpartum blues. Get as much help and assistance as you can lest you feel overwhelmed. But if you ever start nursing thoughts of harming yourself or your baby, please seek medical help immediately as it may have gone beyond postpartum blues into postpartum depression which can get really bad when ignored.

(8) If you had a vaginal birth, you will definitely feel so sore below, this could affect hitherto easy practices like pooing and even urinating. But fear not, the pain subsides overtime.

(6) Hemorrhoids. Some women are left with souvenirs of their pregnancy and birth in the form of Hemorrhoids. It is said to occur more in women who birthed quite heavy babies. Well, it disappears with time but if it doesn't, take it as one of the evidences of your partaking in the miracle or creation.

You may also want to read the following
Refuting some myths surrounding Exclusive breastfeeding in Nigeria

Colostrum; baby's first vaccine

Infant gas pain; that great source of distress to newborns and their mums

Some tips on newborn care

Getting your hospital bag ready for childbirth? Here are things you would likely need to take along.

Getting  your bag ready for the hospital can be a very confusing task  especially for first time mums as one may not always be sure of what would be needed in the hospital for birth and the few days after. This can lead one into buying things around the hospital which usually could be more expensive, or to repeated requests for one thing or the other to be brought to the hospital from home. This list is different from what hospitals usually demand for delivery which often includes delivery mat and all that; it contains the items a new mum will need for herself and the baby; it is by no means exhaustive but will hopefully give Nigerian-based mums an idea of what to pack in their hospital bags.


1. A bag or box. This should be something portable which you can grab with ease.  The size should just be enough to contain the needed items; not too big but not too small either. It should be a light-weight bag or box that will not add unneeded weight to the few things you need to throw into it.
Image result for carry on bagImage result for carry on bag

2.Cloths for you the new mother- to-be. If the health outfit where you intend to give birth does not provide clothing for women in labour, you can never go wrong with wearing a loose, free gown to make you covered but also available for checks especially if you are the kind that would not like to walk round the labour room naked. The gown should make it easy for you to be checked for dilation. Some hospitals provide gowns so inquire if yours will. You will also need cloths you will wear during your hospital stay as well as going-home cloths. If you plan breastfeeding (which most Nigerian women do) then wear cloths that will allow you do so. When choosing such cloths, bear in mind that your belly will still have a bump. Two to three cloths will be okay even though one cannot predict exactly how long the hospital stay will last. Trousers or skirts should be soft- rimmed.

(3). Maternity pads. The most common ones in Nigeria come in a pack of 10 pads. It is safest taking two packs of those though one may end up using just one pack depending on how long the hospital stay lasts. The first few days will come with fairly heavy bleeding and you may find yourself changing your pad 5 to 6 times a day.
one of the most common maternity pads in the Nigerian market

(4) Pants for the new mum. About 6 black coloured pants are recommended especially if you will not be able to wash and dry used ones.

(5) About 2 nursing bras.  These should be comfortable and not too tight as your breasts may get sore at some point. You need something that could be soothing to your sore breasts. They should allow you breastfeed your newborn with having to unhook the bra.

(6) Breast pads to trap the leaked milk. After colostrum comes the mature  breast milk;  usually by the second day.  This could  leak a lot and  breast pads could come in handy in such cases.
Image result for breast pads
(7)  Toiletries. These should include a towel,  bathing soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, hair comb, sponge and  make up for the new mum. After birth, you will very likely want to look as good as you can so your make up bag needs to be taken along.

8) Foot wear. You will need something to wear on your feet in the hospital and on your way home. A flip flop will do for the hospital and something free and nice for going home.

(9) Sizeable water flask. You will at some point need hot water for tea, bath or any other thing.

(10) Some snacks. You could get hungry and need something to munch before or after delivery. Whatever snacks and drinks you fancy will do.

(11) Your phone's charger. The number of calls one will likely make or receive after birth can be enough to run your battery down. You may need to put a spare phone charger in your bag as it is one of the most easily forgotten items.

12. Recharge cards. You will need to make a lot of calls and may not have the convenience of someone to send on errands in the hospital.

(13). Camera. This could come in handy if you are picture freak. You may need to capture those first moments. A phone can also play the same role if you have a camera phone.


(1) Baby cloths. The most common ones used in Nigeria are onesies and overalls. Three to four onesies and same number of overalls should do. It is nice to have a variation in  baby cloths sizes as you don't know how big your baby will be.
(2) Baby diapers.  A pack or two will do depending on the number of diapers in each pack. The baby usually passes out tar-like poo at first followed by mustard-like poo. Sometimes frequency could be up to 5 times a day. Since one isn't sure of how long one would end up staying in the hospital, a total of about 20 diapers will do.

(3) A pack of Baby wipes. These should be fragrance-free and suitable for sensitive skin. Some pediatricians suggest using cotton wool and warm water to wipe the baby's sensitive bum the first few days so a pack of cotton wool may be brought in place of wipes.

(4) 2 baby caps. These should be soft-rimmed and not tight on the newborn's head.
Image result for baby cap
Baby cap
(5) one baby towel for bath or cleaning times. 

(6) One baby flannel. It's advisable to spread your baby's own flannel on the bed before laying your baby down.

(7) Insecticide-treated bed net. You wouldn't want to expose your baby to mosquitoes that early.

(7) Baby oil and petroleum jelly. These usually come in handy when the baby's body is cleaned and needs oiling. They also come in handy when changing diapers. Fragrance free ones are recommended.

For the checklist of what to buy in preparation for baby's arrival in general read this