Nepal – Childbirth in Sheds – Harmful Traditional Practice
Date: December 19, 2016
NEPAL – CHILDBIRTH IN SHEDS DIALOGUE
Action Works Nepal – http://www.actionworksnepal.com/ – Radha Paudel, Founder & President
From Radha Paudel in Nepal. “ I am translating and sharing stories on childbirth and periods in sheds which I have been fighting for a very long time. It is published in national online newspapers in Nepali.
Original link in Nepali: http://mahilakhabar.com/?p=20736
Even today, postnatal women keep in dirt, inhumane cowshed in Bajura, Humla and Mugu. They are so far behind from the popular activities of government such as regular pregnancy check-up, safe delivery, nutrition.
This is for Investigatory Journalism Center, Field Report from Bajura, Humla and Mugu by Mena Sharma and Prakash Singh
Nandasra Sarki (23), Badhu, Bajura:
27 October 2016
Today, it was 12 days of my child delivery. I am living in this shed since child delivery. I am here because myself and my baby is not allow to touch by family members at home. I am not living in this cowshed during menstruation and childbirth, but also all women members from my family are living here.
My maternal house is in Humla, all women live in cowshed like this. I have already delivered five babies. I stayed a month here in cowshed during all childbirth. Here, the family members served food for only ten days then I am cooking myself.
My two babies closed with god already. This baby also suffered from cold. Cough and diarrhoea due to cold. Thus, I a sitiing under sunshine. The shed gets so cold if I wouldn’t use fire. Two babies were dead due to cold. But are not all born babies survive. Everyone’s babies died so mine also dead.
Health workers said that we shouldn’t live in cowshed but we are living in shed. We shouldn’t stay at home. God will get angry. Once god get angry, it will chaos at family and the crops also spoiled and the babies also not good those who survive. I also born and stayed a month at shed alongwith mother. I do not have anything wrong. Thus, nothing wrong to stay at cowshed. Shouldn’t hurt god for the sake of goodness of own/self. There would be destroy once the god get angry.
The sir and madam from organizations are saying not to stay in shed, but we have goodness from living in shed. We eat, we are with family. I will stay in this shed if I would get another baby. Shouldn’t do bad thing for the family. Our ancentors had not have wrong so what would happen for us. Why should we break our traditional practice. If the baby will die so early, mother wouldn’t stay in shed for longer. I have daughter only. I should give birth of son for having ancentral property. Son couldn’t born if I commit sin. I would stay in shed once I have baby boy.
Sarswoti Budthapa (21), Bajura, Rugin
October 28, 2016
Today is the 12th of baby born. I stayed fat health institution for first 24 hours of birth. I returned to home when doctor said that the health of mother and baby is fine. I am living in this shed since I came to home. We all live in shed while having babies. The god will get angry while we go to kitchen and other areas of house. In health institution, they said to stay clean and but not in shed. But should stay at shed during such contaminated condition. Mother and grandmother also had babies in sheds and they stayed. They have nothing so nothing wrong to us as well.
If something goes wrong at family, what to do? God will get angry once we ignore, then no crops, kids get disabled, no rain, landslide etc. I know all wrong things so how can I stay at home?
We hang the axe at the door of shed and tie a sickle at wrist for protection from ghosts and devils. The ghosts scared if we make happy to god. But, sometimes, we may do mistakes and ghosts and devils can attack so we put axe and sickle together. In shed where childbirth, no one stay for a month, only stay mother and baby. Why don’t we do that everyone doing. We follow our culture. We couldn’t do what the sir and madam said from healthpost.
Magi Chadara (17) Mugu, Hyangalu
30 October 2016
Today is the 13th day of birth of my daughter. I went to field to harvest rice paddy by making sleep my daughter at shed. Now, 11 am, I give this grass to buffalo and will eat myself then I will feed to daughter. Again, I will go field for grass cutting for buffalo. Health institution is nearby, reach within five minutes. If would go there, they suggest me to check-up regularly, shouldn’t stay at shed so I gave birth at home, didn’t go health institution.
Sirs and Madam from health institutions and organizations came and told not to stay in sheds, should stay in clean place but have not have as saying. Shouldn’t stay at home once said by seniors from village and family. I went to shed when I have labour pain, gave birth of baby girl. Mother, mother in law, sister in law, daughter in law and neighbours all stay at shed, nothing wrong on them so what could happen for me. I have voluntary (elope) marriage at the age of 15 years. Though I did love marriage, who love forever like these days. Now, I am doing all chores.
During period, shouldn’t do any work inside the home but I do everything outside of home thus I am here for harvesting rice paddy. In rice cutting field, all are girls. The women like us (menstrual women) shouldn’t touch men. I will stay in this shed for nest baby too. How can I say to stay in kitchen, once I know the fact of god would get angry. The culture should continue even have education. Don’t you follow your culture ? Do you touch god during period? Aren’t they angry? You asked, why do I stayed in shed? Shouldn’t be shy to stay in front of all members along with newly born baby? We should follow that all are following.
Chinkala Chadara (22), Mugu, Hyangalu
30 October 2016
Today is the sixth day of childbirth. This baby born in this shed. I went to health institution during pregnancy for check-up. They asked me to come there for birth thought I didn’t. They said that I would get incentive though I didn’t due to everything went well, I gave birth at home.
All livein sheds so I also live in shed. The other postnatal mother also live in shed nearby my home. We do cook food by ourselves. It is contaminated so shouldn’t touch anyone. The outside’s work such as grass cutting, millet cutting, washing clothes, can do. All are living in sheds so why should it problem, nothing wrong.
Both mother and baby get contaminated during childbirth, thus should stay in sheds. God saves all while we have sorrow. So shouldn’t make angry god by living in kitchen. Stay in shed during having other babies. The male members would have problem if god will angry. They would die during young age. Children would disable. The emergency occur at home. By knowing all such facts, shouldn’t live at home. All family members have goodness due to staying in shed for 30 days. The children would get badness if there is sin. What will happen in experiencing such hardship?
Dudhari Dhami (24) Humla, Maila
I had delivered a baby in shed last year. I stayed a month in shed. Women from neighbour brought me to shed once I had labour pain. Like others, I had cut cord by sickle. I was 24 years old. I have two babies. I was in shed during first baby too. Nothing wrong yet. This is our traditional practice.
My mother delivered me at shed. I have nothing wrong yet. How can abolish the anger of god if god angry due to entering in to home. My mother said, the gods angry since ancestors so started to live in shed. should follow the saying. Shouldn’t drink milk during childbirth because cows and buffalo won’t give milk. Should stay in cowshed as tradition even though the reduction of the half of the body. During rainy season, experienced trouble due to insects but should stay anyway.
Bhawana Buda (22)Humla,Maila
It was last year’s experience. I delivered baby at shed. I stayed at shed for a month. Do go health institutions if there is complications in childbirth. It is far, how can go such far by leaving household chores. Baby would have diarrohoea, if I will eat green vegetables. Should take caution. Should prepare food by self. Mother told the stories of women who suffers from god due to not following the restriction. we stay in shed for the sake of family, crops and children.
Ramudevi Malla,Bajura Badhu
I am community female health volunteer. I am working for 10 years. It is very hard to convince for not living in sheds. Raise awareness on pregnancy test, taking vitamins, deworm in, iron tablets but cannot convince for not living in sheds . Said, attacked by god, what others. Nothing from god, it is ignorance.
Can’t not convince for not living in shed by keeping all family together. Kolti (name of place) is far. No radio, Television. They said ok infront of sirs and madam from organizations and immediately bring to shed once pain starts. They might not listen from me because I am from same village.
For educating them on nothing wrong to stay at home during my childbirth but I can’t educate them. They don’t follow me even I asked to keep in clean and separate room, not in to kitchen and temple room. Out of 100,2-3 keep home, rest not agreed. If someone or cattle sick at home during childbirth, it is saying due to keeping childbirth mother at home.
Elimination of traditional practice is hard. Daughter in laws can’t eliminate it. In laws are saying that what would happen now, nothing wrong in our times. In our times, 10 babies born at sheds, nothing went wrong. Nowdays, asked for health institutions, should n’t stay in sheds. what kind of time is coming, they shout. Thus, no one ready to eliminate the practice.
Earlier days, just keep with litter, now there is no litter but dirt. Someone may clean and use straw but majority have dirt.
We just educate them to check regularly, stay clean, eat nutritious food. Not available for everyone. Asked for making clean even in shed. They replied, why should we clean for such contamination.
Just last year, a postnatal mother dead due to excessive bleeding on the way to Kolti ( place for airport). The uterus got infected due to dirt.
I said that the baby gets pneumonia, mother have lower abdominal pain, white discharge, infection in uterus. They replied, nothing will happen once make happy to god. It is very hard to convenience in own village.
Dhan Bhadur Phader
Dhan Bhadur Phadera, Rugin Health Chauki (facility) Acting chief
Postnatal is very sensitive condition. But, here has practice of keeping in sheds where oxen and cows continues. God gives sin if they keep at home, this is the saying here. Health condition is very poor. I am here for last two years. Due to living in shed, have fever, white discharge, lower abdominal pain occurs. They come to facility once they have serious condition. Sometimes very hard to make alive. No hygiene, no water. Live in narrow shed where cows and oxen live. Even clothes are not good. Shed cold, no dry. High chance of having pneumonia.
Have awareness raising program but they do not like to leave their tradition. Don’t give milk, ghee, curd to postnatal women. Don’t give meat for a month. Condition is bit change than yesterday. My house is Kalikot (district of Karnali, adjoining district of Jumla), travelled five districts of Karnali. Now, 80 % postnatal mothers keep in sheds. How can we say that the low awareness?