Ganga Becomes a Mother
Ganga Becomes a Mother
“I am from the so-called untouchable caste dalit. Generally women from my community get married at an early age. I too was not an exception. With the fear my parents would force me to marry someone of their choice, I eloped with the man I loved," says Ganga B.K.
“Though I much adored small babies, the thought of pregnancy always frightened me. I had closely observed the miscarriage of my sister-in-law Hema and witnessed her pain. The excessive bleeding she had to bear had installed deep fear inside of me, and even the thought of that pain sends shivers down my spine.
“Married at an early age, I did not know much about family planning. Nobody cared to teach girls about reproductive health, fearing that we might misuse the learning and run away at an early age. At school the teachers would skip the lessons about reproductive health, and we were always ignorant. I lacked the necessary knowledge and was taken aback only when I missed my menstruation and learned that I was pregnant. I regretted it at the moment but had no choice other than consoling myself thinking it was the price I had to pay for our ignorance.
“However, the news of me becoming pregnant brought joy to our family. Soon everyone in the village knew about it, and I was approached by a community health volunteer named Saraswoti Chunara. She first inquired about my health condition and invited me to attend a mother group meeting that was happening next day. I was first reluctant as I had never attended such a meeting since I came to this village, but also I was curious to know what would happen in those meetings. Fortunately, my mother-in-law was positive to the proposition of the community health volunteer and allowed me to go to the meeting. The mother groups for health were beginning to exercise a self-applied technique for quality health facilitated by CARE. A social map was drawn which had all the houses of the village that the health volunteer Saraswoti was responsible for. On the map I was asked to identify my house, and a red tika (an indication meaning danger) was put next to my house meaning that pregnancy is a risk time. Other pregnant women also had their own different indications on the map that reflected each woman's health seeking behavior during pregnancy. The health facilitator who has similar name as mine, Ganga, discussed the danger signs during pregnancy and the need for proper care during pregnancy.
“The map identified those mothers who were not utilizing health services, and the health workers counseled them to utilize health services The discussions enforced me to take care of myself and the baby inside of me in every aspect. I found the health discussion very interesting for self-applied technique for quality health evaluated the health seeking behavior of pregnant women and we were alerted about the health complications. I enjoyed the meeting as it was a break for me from my regular schedule and household chores. I would share the discussion at my home with my husband, and he always accompanied me to the hospital for my antenatal check-ups.
As the date of my delivery neared, I could see everyone in my family was happy, but deep within me the fear was instilled that my baby growing inside of me could come to this world lifeless. All I could do at the time was to keep following the health discussions and practice carefully whatever I was taught. Be it taking iron tablets every day though I loathed its smell or the TT injections, I sincerely followed the health volunteer's advice.
“Unlike my experience of deliveries being conducted at home, I was advised to seek service in the nearby health facility. I was informed of my expected date of delivery and when my labor pain could start. As my family was already prepared, they rushed me to the hospital as soon as I expressed my pain in my lower abdomen. The pain was too extreme and hard to bear for a while, but as I heard my baby crying in the nurse’s arm I sighed with happiness.
“My husband and I have now decided to wait at least two years for another child. He understands me and is committed to stand by my decisions. We have now started using condoms already. I believe the self-applied technique for quality health initiated by CARE is supporting many women like me in adapting correct health behavior. These days I continue to go to discussions, which I had stopped for a while after my delivery. The discussions have boosted my confidence, and I share this to all the pregnant women. If I hadn't been taught, I am sure my baby wouldn't be living today!”
Written by Prativa Basnet, CARE Nepal