For the past three days I have held a steady fever of 99 – 100 F, which this afternoon started to fade. Not feeling too awful, yet not quite alive either, I run up and down to our daughter’s desire. I can feel a small bump in my left breast, which hurts and stinging burning sensation when milk rushes through. Thanks to Google I know that what I have is called mastitis and that with some heat, massaging and pumping it will go away. If the fever persists and the pain increases, then I must see a doctor who will probably prescribe antibiotics for a week. If the seven days go by and my symptoms continue, I will painfully go deeper into the american healthcare system and get my boob and wallet drained.
Fortunately, I am already feeling better and none of the latter interventions will be needed. Yet, I know about them because of the internet. As I browse around 20 websites containing valuable information about mastitis, I wonder what do young isolated mothers around the world do when they get this painful, warm lump in their breast and a high fever – out of the blue? How do they know not to panic? How do they know that breastfeeding more often is the answer, regardless of pain intuition?
In many villages I imagine that elder women can aid the new mother. But with the poor job most of the world does at educating women about their own biology and reproductive health, I bet many are at a loss. I often think about women when I am in pain. How do new moms around the world deal with childbirth – I am not thinking of those with access to an epidural, scheduled c-sections, etc. My mind wonders to huts in remote places, where medical assistance is almost none existent. Who briefs those child brides of the pain that they are about to endure as their child cruises through their tiny pelvis? Who helps them get a good latch on those first few days of their baby’s life?
A common statistic on maternal mortality states that a woman dies of childbirth every 20 seconds. I revisited this post three time during the last week, writing whenever I had time. On average I spent about 20 min each time, from the moment I began writing this post to the moment I finished typing about 180 women died and left an orphaned child behind, if the baby survived. That is crazy to me! How can we live in a world where so many mothers die from childbirth?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), each year about 100,000 women are affected by obstetric fistula, a hole in the birth canal that commonly develops when there is obstructed labour. This is commonly seen in women who did not have access to a medical facility to conduct an emergency c-section, it is also found in child-brides whose pelvis are not wide enough for the baby’s head and (on another note) women who have been brutally raped (which is commonly used as a weapon of war an unfortunately endemic in part of the world). That is 274 woman a day that will now most likely experience social segregation, due to their newly constant incontinence and smell. How do they cope with the incredible stinging that, I imagine, arises from having poop drain through your uterus lining?
At the end, these are all statistics. Behind each number lies a woman and for every woman counted there are countless others whose stories have yet been included into yet another annual report.
So there you have it… a stress point in my life… global women’s health and empowerment – my passion.