Hyderabad: While a family can be supportive, it can also be a nuisance at best and dangerous at worst. When 23-year-old Anusha’s (name changed) labour pains began, she was rushed to hospital. The contractions continued throughout the day and till mid-night. The family was getting restless, and was not prepared to wait any longer and wanted a C-section to be done. Father, mother, and sisters-in-law camped inside the hospital demanding that the doctor carry out the delivery.
The doctor was furious at their behaviour. The expectant mother had been brought to the hospital with very mild contractions and the baby’s head was correctly positioned. It was not necessary to have a C-section. She finally administered an injection to increase the spasms and within three hours the baby was born.
Unwarranted advice or demands from relatives often pushes the doctor to opt for a C-section. Dr Sree Laxmi Kantam says that today everyone is in a hurry. “Despite putting up boards that only two relatives will be allowed, the full family is inside the room by evening.”
Worse is the superstition that guides childbirth in some sections of society. In one case, a woman nearing her time of delivery was brought to the hospital not because her contractions had started but because the astrologer had stated that the day was good for her to give birth.
Doctors who examined her said she had another 10 days to go as it was an extended pregnancy. They explained that the waters were yet to burst, that there was still time and that the mother could have a normal delivery. But the family was adamant that a C-section be done. The young, first time mother had no say and her opinion was not taken either by the family or the doctor.
A senior gynaecologist says that in these “mahuratam cases”, the pregnant women are often scared of a C-section but unable to voice their concern to their husbands. “Even doctors do not ask them as they are worried that the woman will face a backlash later. But it must be understood that a doctor can intervene by explaining the situation to the family members and so protect her. To do that, they have to speak to her more as a human being than as a doctor."
Another example of the negative role traditional families can play is when it comes to what the pregnant and lactating mother should eat.
Vitamin supplements and folic acid are essential during pregnancy, but in one case, the family did not allow the young mother to take these. By the fifth month, due to hormonal changes and lack of vitamins, she became very weak. The doctor was very upset and asked the family to co-operate and allow her to take supplements or the child will not survive. They finally agreed.
In the third trimester, no check-up was done and the mother was only brought in around the time of child birth. The family had made the young woman drink castor oil, which is believed, erroneously, to ease the delivery process. This led to severe nausea and she was in a dehydrated condition when she was brought to the hospital.
Castor oil has been discarded by allopathic doctors as it leads to motions, vomiting and dehydration. The woman had to have a C-section in order to save her life and the baby’s....