Giving Birth – The woman’s Jihad

Bismillah Rahman Ar-Raheem

Even Maryam one of the 4 best examples of women in the whole history of mankind felt despair when giving birth to Jesus.

19:23 – and the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm tree. She said “Oh I wish I had died before this and was in oblivion, forgotten.”

Not only was she having to go through the whole thing entirely alone, but she was facing her community and how they would react to her when she returned to them with her son Isa. May Allah protect us from trials in life such as hers.

Al-Hamduliliah Allah has created the woman so she quickly forgets. After giving birth the pain and shock give way quickly to adrenaline and focus on the new little life in your arms, the wonder & practical needs of your baby. When I gave birth to my second son I couldn’t believe how quickly the contractions stopped after he had been born. Should be obvious, but it amazed me at the time …

Recently I have been excited because I am pregnant again, with our third child, Insha’Allah.

Then last week I suddenly had a moment (s) of night terror as I relived vividly in my memory the two births of our first children and the hardships of those births.

Can I really go through it again?

I try not to have the attitude when living here that I am better than others, because I have come from a privileged background (in comparison – facilities, education, healthcare, accommodation, diet etc). Firstly because we are all equal in Allah’s eyes, and can only be better than another person through our religious goodness. Secondly because while there are some things I know better (such as a burn needs water putting on it) there are things they certainly know better and many of the things they know better are related to our Religion or living in the environment here, so I have to try to be humble and learn because those are both areas I am in much need of learning!

So what has this got to do with childbirth?

Well in a developing, second or third world country healthcare is far, far from equivalent to even the highly complained about NHS. Ladies in the UK next time you complain please think about all the women all over the world pregnant with no antenatal care, giving birth in dirty conditions, with bad medical practice or no medical practice. Women pregnant and giving birth in war zones. Even me I have to say Al-hamdulilah because it could be worse. Things could be much, much worse.

For us here – think U.K 1950’s healthcare, and that is what you get.

NO support person is allowed to be present AT ALL – even a female one. Despite my vocal and persistent complaints, requests, begging, I have not managed to get that rule waivered either time. He goes to try #3 Isha’Allah : D. I won’t ever completely give up on this one.

No choices, or participation in what is being done medically. No information given to the woman about what is happening unless she persistently asks or it is something major (they did tell me I would have to have an emergency cesarean before it happened ; ). But they did promise an epidural then put me to sleep anyway ; )). Put up and shut up, we (the medics) know best being the general attitude.

You will get an episcotomy like it or not (we will see about this for #3 as I do not plan to co-operate with that one this time). No way hozay – come near me with those surgical shears and you will regret it!

No pain management want it or not.

No birth plan want it or not.

You will give birth on your back in stirrups like it or not.

No walking around in labour, no eating or drinking (for me no problem that one, no idea why anyone would eat when experiencing contractions, even in between them it was the last thing on my mind, but anyway! Some women in long labours do want/ need to and current research shows there is no harm in it).

When I had my emergency cesarean they refused to give me my son for 12 hours after I woke up. Until now my son and I miss that time together.

No support at all for breastfeeding. In fact they give you a tin of powdered milk pretty much saying “there’s no point trying to breastfeed, you’ll not manage it”. I had to try not to be too smug when the Nurses remembered me in Hospital the second time and asked if I had managed to breastfed my first son – and I got to tell them yes, I had and he was still going.

I know one lady in the family who was slapped by the head Nurse assisting to deliver the baby for not trying hard enough to push (turned out in the end the baby was stuck).

I was told to “Shut up”, and had to listen to the Nurses commenting on my private parts, thinking I didn’t understand them.

I have a friend who pretty much gave birth alone while the Nurses celebrated one of their birthdays at the Nurse station (yes, birthdays’ are Haram – talk about ironic this was in the Private Islamic hospital too ha ha). At least it was her sixth baby so she knew what she was doing!

So last week my stomach sank, churned and quietly, sleeplessly panicked.

Al-hamdulilah both my sons were born healthy albeit far from my ideal of how giving birth can be.

This post is my reminder to myself that I have to trust and remember Allah knows best and to be patient.

Childbirth is the woman’s Jihaad so it is never going to be easy, and if I find it hard it is okay, but to turn to Allah and Insha’Allah all will be well.

Sometimes I envy the women here because while they know there is much to be said for the healthcare they receive they don’t really know what the alternatives are and how good it can be, so they can’t miss it.

I remember one girl telling me how great the private hospital was because they put her to sleep just as she delivered the baby – so she missed that bit. I really hope I mis-understood because I really don’t know what kind of medical practice that is. Private note to self – stick with the government hospital, at least there is a new (read: cleaner, better equipped) one now! 

 Subhana Allah (glory to God) the world is a wonderful, fantastical place.

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2 thoughts on “Giving Birth – The woman’s Jihad

    1. Thank you Sharon. I dream sometimes of the flyers I saw in the UK maybe 4 years ago about the lovely midwife run apartment style place to give birth.. with a kitchen, room and bed for spouses and children, kitchen, birthing pool (dreamy look)… Great strides are being made here though and there was massive improvements in the two years between my two children… Insha’Allah things will continue to get better for us women here.. after all most of us are having at least 3 (I know a large number of women who have got up to 12) so it is important for us…

      Liked by 1 person

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