There were no instructions, class, no special tests, no discussion of emotional issues or questions. Just checking on the basics like weight and baby’s heartbeat. The biggest surprise came when I had to sign a release form that I understood the risks of giving birth in Djibouti, that there was almost zero neonatal care, almost zero chance of pain medications, that if anything went wrong it would be an absolute disaster, that I had been told to leave and chose to stay, and that I wouldn’t sue anyone.
There was one delivery room at my hospital. If there happened to be more than one woman ready to push at the same time, the others would be on the examining table or the floor. Thankfully, I was the only one in labor on September 11.
3.)What surprised you about postnatal care in Djibouti?
I loved the postnatal care in Djibouti, which was minimal. Only five visitors were allowed total, including my husband and two other children so the two days in the hospital were relaxing. A nurse brought food from the cafeteria, another nurse asked how I felt. That was it. My baby and I were alone to bond and sleep.
4.) Overall impression of the pregnancy and birth culture in Djibouti.
As a westerner, I know I had a different experience than many Djiboutian women giving birth. My husband was with me, I wasn’t pinched, insulted, or shouted at. I had a private delivery room. At the same time, I was isolated. Djiboutian relatives surround a laboring and post-partum mother and I was far from my family community. While the physical aspects of giving birth in Djibouti are challenging and higher risk than in the US, the social aspects are rich and filled with community.
To read more about Rachel’s experience giving birth in Djibouti, check out her amazing New York Times article (yes folks, NY Times – I told you she’s a brilliant writer). Rachel blogs at Djibouti Jones. You can join her Facebook community or follow along on Twitter.
Stay tuned next week for another international birth story!