MR Adam Malima, the Regional Commissioner for Mara, has railed at the diabolical practice of sending pregnant women to look after grazing cattle.
He is concerned that even women who are close to giving birth are subjected to hard labour in the family.
The RC has, consequently, banned this practice, reasoning that the hard task on chasing grazing cattle in the field could be a source of pregnancy complications.
The RC is right. Pregnant women deserve good societal prenatal care. They should also be fed well. Indeed, a pregnant woman should never be punished.
She should never be beaten, for example, or abused in any way. If a pregnant woman is abused, she and the foetus can be seriously harmed. A chance for the mother is a chance for her baby.
Most pregnancies are normally safe and problem free. Perhaps that is why we see human beings virtually everywhere. However, it would be remiss not to point out here that with any pregnancy there is a possibility that something may go wrong.
Pregnancy complications cannot be predicted. The first delivery is the most dangerous. So, since dangerous problems can arise without warning during pregnancy or childbirth all families need to know the location of the nearest hospital or clinic.
They must also have funds and transport means for quickly getting the expecting woman to the hospital. Some pregnant women are taken to hospital on donkey back or bicycle.
This is not good. Not long ago a pregnant woman, who was being taken to hospital, delivered in a crowded pontoon in Dar es Salaam. She was shielded from men’s eyes by fellow women who surrounded her.
In another incident, a few years ago a village woman, who was alone, gave birth to a son in the shade of a tree without help from anyone.
But incidents of this nature should not be allowed to happen. The mother-to-be should be moved closer to a hospital so that she is within reach of medical help.
Families need to know the risk factors and should recognize the warning signs of possible problems. Such signs are numerous--often varying from person to person. The major signs include failure to gain weight.
At least six kilos should be gained during pregnancy. Anaemia; paleness inside the eyelids or unexplained fatigue are other signs of trouble. A pregnant woman is not necessarily a weak person.
Other ominous signs include pronounced swelling of legs, arms or face; inability on the part of the foetus to stir; bleeding during pregnancy or profuse or persistent bleeding after delivery; severe headaches or stomach-aches and severe or persistent vomiting.
The signs also include high fever, a water break before due time for delivery, convulsions, severe pain and prolonged labour which can lead to obstetric fistula and even death for the infant or the mother or both.