Maternal waiting homes in the Mutoko district of Zimbabwe have helped hundreds of women deliver safely. But in addition to offering free medical care, the homes also play a key role in educating men about the risks women face when giving birth at home.
Aweza is 34 and has four children. The first three children were delivered at home, but her youngest son, Tendai, was delivered at Kawere Clinic. Aweza helped build the clinic in 2012 and was very discouraged when her husband did not want her to give birth there when she fell pregnant soon afterward.
“I encouraged him to participate in men’s dialogue sessions. He learned that nurses monitor pregnant women and detect any complications early enough to be treated. The sessions changed his mind.
“The Kawere home provided me with a private and relaxed environment where I delivered comfortably although I had a breach delivery. Tendai was delivered with the legs first. It would have been a disaster had I delivered at home where there are no trained medical personnel. Delivering at home has so many disadvantages, such as no time to rest, unhygienic conditions during birth and no trained nurses.
“I am now practising exclusive breastfeeding and giving my children nutritious meals. I am very grateful for the project because it opened many minds, including my husband’s.”
Nurses at the clinics encourage men to visit the homes with their wives. After touring the facilities and speaking with staff, men return to their communities and often encourage others to use the homes.
From the bedside
“After we opened a maternal waiting home in 2013, home deliveries reduced drastically. We have six to 10 deliveries a month at the clinic. All primary care nurses are trained in basic obstetric care over six months and a registered general nurse who is also a midwife is posted here to help run the home.” Nyasha, nursing officer at Kopondoro
“The maternal waiting home is especially useful here in Kopondoro because the population catchment stretches to the mountain areas where the transport network is not good. Women from the mountains can come here at 36 weeks to wait for their delivery date without fear of emergency.” Tanaka, nursing officer at Kopondoro
“Most of the women in the rural areas survive on less than $1 a day and make a living farming. This year we experienced El Nino-induced drought so we are trying to source funds to introduce a feeding scheme for pregnant mothers. If we can provide food, this will be a further incentive to attract more mothers.” Faith, nursing officer at Makosa