Ayantu is a 20 year old woman who lives in a small village in the West Wollega area of Ethiopia. From her village it is almost two hours walk to the nearest health centre. The long distances involved is just one of a number of reasons why the vast majority of women in rural Ethiopia don’t attend a health clinic for ante natal care and give birth at home without being able to access skilled help from a midwife or doctor.
Ayantu had not been to the local health centre for previous ante natal care but she had heard from other local women that a maternal health clinic was being held there and that she would be able to have a check-up and an ultrasound scan which would show her a picture of the baby inside her. This is a very rare opportunity in Ethiopia so Ayantu decided to make the long journey. She attended a clinic being held there as part of Maternity Worldwide’s Safe Place of Birth Project which assesses the risks which women will face when they deliver.
Ayantu did not know how far through the pregnancy she was but the ultrasound showed she was about 40 weeks. There was little fluid around the baby indicating that Ayantu’s waters had broken some time ago. More worryingly, the baby was shown to be in a transverse position (lying sideways) which would make it very unlikely she would be able to deliver naturally. The risk to Ayantu was further increased by the fact she is very short in height, only 1.43m, and that this was her first baby.
Because she was so high risk Ayantu was advised to go to the hospital to have her baby. At the hospital she was met by a highly skilled volunteer obstetrician from Maternity Worldwide who was able to carry out the caesarean delivery she needed. Ayantu safely delivered a baby boy. Both mother and baby were healthy and well and were able to go home just three days later.
If she had stayed at home to deliver as she had originally planned then there is a very strong possibility Ayantu and her baby would have died.
Ayantu wanted other local women to be able to take advantage of the ante natal and delivery care which had helped her so much. She came along to one of the maternal health promotion sessions arranged by Maternity Worldwide to tell her story. In front of 300 women from surrounding villages, Ayantu spoke movingly of how the staff and services at the health centre and hospital had enabled her to give birth safely and bring home her healthy baby boy.