FOR any married woman, having a baby in marriage is a delight. In some societies, marriage becomes more meaningful only if it results into children.
This is what has been troubling Jennifer Peter who got married in 2002 but since then she has been struggling to have a child.
A resident of Shirati in Rorya District, Mara region, Ms Peter got 15 pregnancies since she was married but sadly all of them ended up in misery.
Ten of the pregnancies gave premature babies who died shortly after delivery and five pregnancies were lost in miscarriages.
Her marriage life turned into a mess, with her in-laws pushing their son to divorce her for another woman capable of bearing children.
“My mother-in-law kept on harassing and pressurising me; she used to say, I want grandkids…my son didn’t marry you to stay here and only eating. It reached a time she decided to find another woman for her son,” the 34-year old Jennifer told the ‘Daily News’ in an interview.
Narrating her story, Ms Peter stated that way back in 2002 she married Samwel Nyamani at Nyangasaga village. She started experiencing problems in the same year after the first miscarriage of her five-month pregnancy.
After a year, she conceived. When the pregnancy developed to some months, she delivered a premature baby who died shortly.
Her in-laws then thought she was bewitched and decided to send him to the witch doctor for treatment.
Despite this, she continued giving births to premature babies and miscarriages, leading to her husband’s marriage to the second wife in 2009. The second wife gave birth to two children.
Years later, she got 15th pregnancy and decided to go to Shirati hospital for further medication before losing it. “I was told my womb was weak to carry the baby. I decided to go to my aunt at Mwitembe village in Bunda District.”
Her mother sent her to Bunda District hospital where the doctors tried to treat her but in vain.
Last year, she conceived the 16th pregnancy and in December she went back to her mother for close attention. In January this year, she got labour pain and bleeding when the pregnancy was just five months old. His further rushed her to Nansimo Heath Centre which referred her to Kibara hospital.
At the hospital, she prematurely delivered the 750-gramme baby. The doctors applied intensive post-natal care to keep the baby alive and it was successful. Jennifer stayed at the hospital with her baby girl, Neema, for three months under close monitoring until the baby gained weight to 2.5 kilogrammes.
“I am thankful for the service I got at Kibara hospital which has enabled me to have the baby, I am now called mother after losing 10 premature babies and five other in miscarriages,” she appreciated.
The health staff at the hospital explained that they were able to keep the baby alive after teaching her on how to perform Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) to her new born baby. KMC is a method of care of preterm infants.
The method involves infants being carried, usually by the mother, with skin-to-skin contact. It is believed that KMC is effective in reducing both infant mortality and the risk of hospital acquired infection as well as increasing the rate of breastfeeding and weight gain.
The health service providers at the hospital were trained on this method through USAID funded BoreshaAfya project which operates in the Lake and Western Zones of Tanzania. The project aims at supporting the government to reduce the number of perinatal and maternal deaths in the country.
Mr Dominick Nyamima, a Midwife at Kibara health facility is the one who introduced KMC to Jennifer after acquiring the knowledge from several assessments under BoreshaAfya project.
“I really give all credits to USAID BoreshaAfya project staff, whenever they come for assessments they remind us on ABCs of KMC and how important it is for babies who are born prematurely,” he said.
“The baby was very small, 750 grams…this was my first case ever to attend the baby with that weight and yet survived. To me, this is good memory,” he said.
Currently, the USAID BoreshaAfya is supporting 25 KMC sites in Mara and Kagera regions. Dr Nila Jackson, who spoke on behalf of Mara Regional Medical Officer, admitted that the project has really changed the way health staff used to operate, improving the services and helping to reduce the maternal deaths in the region.
Between July and October this year, the project is working with the Council Health Management Teams (CHMTs) in Mara and Kagera regions to establish 10 KMC sites, five in each region, through On the Job Training (OJT), supply of KMC registers and newborn weigh scales and making the sites functional.