Child Birth – African Style

Child Birth in Africa – Ouch!

Child Birth. We’ve all gone through it, one way or the other.  As a male, I’m glad I will never know what it will feel like to give birth.

This belief was even more reinforced after my last trip to Africa, when I saw what women have to endure during Child Birth to ensure the human species keeps going.  That is, women lucky enough to have a hospital nearby.

Anyone who has gone to Africa would notice the lack of infrastructure there.  Electricity is a luxury.  Food on the table is an achievement.  People are very resourceful with what they have – which is usually nothing.  This also applies to the health system.

Child Birth Environment

An example of a general hospital ward is shown below.


This is a hospital atnear Lake Malawi – I was keen to see how hospitals function outside of the western world.  It was a small place, very basic, but clean.  This hospital is one of the more ‘prosperous’ in Malawi.

This is because it’s located near a popular traveller hangout, and backpackers come through regularly to give small donations that become part of the hospital’s budget.  This money is used to buy equipment, including basic drugs and replacement malaria nets – funds permitting.  During the visit, I noticed that some of the nets had holes in them.

There were also patients there who were keen to meet those of us who were way out of town.  This included one young lady who had only given birth about 30 minutes before we turned up.  Remarkably, she was keen to meet us, even though she was probably feeling a bit sore from Child Birth.  I doubt if the hospital stocked any Epidural to make her ordeal less painless.

Her name was Sara.

We asked ‘So how are you and the Baby going?’

She replied ‘We are all very good.  Would you like to see her?’

I expected the Baby to be in a maternity ward elsewhere, and that we would have to go for a brief stroll to view the new born.

We replied ‘Yeah, sure’.

She then pulled back the sheet on her bed, and pulled out her Baby. This is a picture I took of them together – note the presence of blood still on the Baby’s head, showing just how recently she had given birth.

Fair to say, obviously, we were all fairly gob-smacked when she showed us her newborn.  I promised that I would send her this photo, which I did when I arrived home – I hope she’s received it.


So if you thought the health system in your own country was bad, think of these people in Africa and what they have to put up with – especially during Child Birth!

I guessing they’ve never heard of Heading Home with Your Newborn: From Birth to Reality.

Other things you can do in Malawi – check out the Anti Corruption signs and have a hair cut at a Barber Shop.

More Child Birth Stuff

Check out more at Child Care and Culture: Lessons from Africa and Active Birth : The New Approach to Giving Birth Naturally.

About Anthony The Travel Tart

The Travel Tart writes about the funny, offbeat and weird aspects of world travel today. Travel wasn't meant to be taken too seriously! Check out ways to say hi below or sign up for his silly newsletter!

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  1. May 19, 2009    

    This is such a moving and unique post! And the picture is absolutely haunting (in one of those beautiful ways). It makes me somewhat sad to see this woman sitting up holding her baby in this small African hospital that can’t afford malaria nets! It makes me sad to think of women in North America paying to pre-book C-section in the name of “choice”. Travel, even just reading about it, can really open your eyes to the reality of necessity and what is actually essential. Brilliant post.

    1002things’s last blog post..Monday’s Picture of the Week

  2. Jorge Jorge
    March 3, 2010    

    haunting.. as the above poster put it. I fully agree. We are so lucky here in the west. The birth of my own child could have ended in disaster if it wasn’t for the health system we have here. Posts like yours remind us all how lucky we are.

    .-= Jorge´s last blog ..Start A Rental Empire With Cheap Georgia Foreclosures =-.

  3. karen karen
    August 19, 2010    

    I agree, I can say that I’m still lucky though I gave birth at home. My doctor took care of me with precautions. I believe aside from the facilities that we have, proper health and sanitation education should be promoted.

  4. October 23, 2010    

    It is so sad to know that hospitals or maternity clinics are not that accessible in Africa. I was moved with their situation especially that giving birth is a matter of life and death. The mother and the baby’s health should be properly monitored. I hope that more readers will see this photo and extend help to their situation.

  5. March 24, 2011    

    Nice post! its interesting and informative, your posts like yours remind us all how lucky we are. I believe aside from the facilities that we have the proper health and sanitation education should be promoted. thanks for sharing!

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