Pregnant women with small feet turned away from clinics
PREGNANT women with small feet, putting on size four shoes and below and are less than 1,5 metres tall have high risks of complications during labour and should not deliver at a clinic, a health official has said.
This comes amid complaints from women that municipal and private clinics were turning them away from their facilities citing possible complications during childbirth. Although some of the women said this was not properly explained to them, Sunday News sought answers from experts.
Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, founder and chief executive officer for the Royal Women’s Clinic, a maternity clinic in Bulawayo Dr Solwayo Ngwenya said there was a correlation between these factors.
“These women are not lying at all. There is a correlation actually between the height of the woman, her shoe size and pelvic area. If a woman is less that 1,5 metres tall and wears a shoe size from four going downwards there is a potential complication risk when she is giving birth. Such people have complications because the birth canal will be much smaller than a woman who is taller and has a bigger foot,” he explained.
Dr Ngwenya explained that there was a tendency to have obstructed labour when a woman was faced with these three dilemmas.
Obstructed labour is when the uterus is contracting normally but the baby cannot exit because they are physically blocked, the head of the baby and the pelvic brim will be a mismatch and the baby cannot exit smoothly. Dr Ngwenya hints that in such cases the baby then gets stressed and may not have adequate oxygen leading to death. He said it was essential that such women register to give birth at a hospital rather than a clinic.
“Why we say these women register at a hospital is that they need a place where an emergency Caesarian Section can be done by a specialist in the case of a problem. Our clinics do not have that capacity so it is safe for women with this challenge to just register at a place where the operation can be done,” he added.
Dr Ngwenya said when clinics attempt to deliver some of these cases there were chances of the baby getting stressed as it tries to worm itself out of the small birth canal.
“When some of these women deliver naturally at clinics there are sometimes complications and in some cases, end up giving birth to children with brain damage because the delivery was not correctly executed,” he added.
He said it is essential for women to get vital information when they visit clinics in order to prepare adequately for childbirth at the correct health facility. He said doctors and midwives must explain to pregnant women who have this predicament that they should brace themselves for Caesarian Sections when there are complications in child birth.
Dr Ngwenya said some of the challenges that come with forcing a normal delivery for women in this category include infections and commonly obstetric fistula which is an abnormal opening between the genital tract and urinary or rectum tract.
The development of obstetric fistula is directly linked to the major causes of maternal mortality which is obstructed labour. Women who develop obstetric fistula suffer from uncontrolled passing of urine which may lead to skin infections, kidney problems, social isolation and death if left untreated.
The Ministry of Health and Child Care designated Chinhoyi Provincial Hospital as the centre for the repairs of obstetric fistula in Zimbabwe as hundreds of women have been on a waiting list for the corrective surgery.