“I choose to have my babies at Shanti because of the amazing midwives. They take good care of us mothers compared to the facility where I had my first child. The Birth House also has a good environment; it’s quiet and it makes the whole birthing process more comfortable. Shanti Birth House fees are also affordable to us mothers with limited financial resources.” – Shamim, mother of three
On Christmas morning, 2012, Shamim felt a familiar pain and knew: she was in labour. Shamim, who is Muslim, was not herself celebrating, but her predominantly Christian village was essentially shut down in observance. Contractions do not stop to observe religious holidays, however, so Shamim found a boda to take her to the Shanti Uganda Birth House.
When she arrived, midwife Joy excitedly ushered her inside. Shamim was not yet fully dilated, so Joy helped her pass the time by walking with her around the Birth House grounds. Joy showed her special positions to reduce her pain and aid the labour. For hours, Joy was hands-on in caring for and assisting Shamim through the birth process.
This was quite different from her first birth experience just two years earlier. That time, when she went into labour, Shamim travelled with her sister to the nearest public facility. She had never been educated about the importance of antenatal care, and being just sixteen when she conceived, Shamim was too scared to seek support. Having received no antenatal treatment, Shamim arrived at the hospital nervous and frightened. Unfortunately, the staff at the hospital were not supportive. She was made to sit alone, labouring in the waiting room for hours until she was ready to push, making an already stressful experience even more stressful.
Thankfully, Shamim suffered no birth complications and her first son Sulaim was born healthy. After he was born, Shamim and her husband moved to Bukuma village, about 2 km from the Shanti Uganda Birth House. There, she got to know Flora, Shanti’s prenatal yoga teacher and doula. When Shamim became pregnant again, Flora advised her to visit Shanti for prenatal care.
Immediately, Shamim was impressed with Shanti’s centre. She particularly noticed the difference in environment between Shanti and other care centers she had visited. The birth house was clean, comfortable, and quiet.
But above all else, the greatest part was the quality care she received from Shanti’s midwives. They listened to her, and treated her with respect and kindness. Retelling the story of her second birth, Shamim raved about the lengths Joy to which went to ensure that she felt comfortable and supported.
“At the public facility, no one advises you or helps you. At the Shanti Uganda Birth House, the midwives watch you and are caring for you throughout the time you spend at the Birth House, ” Shamim recently remarked, recalling her experiences.
Shamim gave birth to a baby whom she named Muhammad at about 4:00pm that Christmas day. Afterward, Joy helped her wash and brought her to rest in the postpartum ward. She gave Shamim new baby clothes and fresh sheets for Muhammad. “She made sure I had all the necessities before, during and after birth,” Shamim recalled.
After Muhammad’s birth, Shamim sought family planning services from Shanti so that she could control if and when she got pregnant again. Shanti’s health education talks had taught her the importance of spacing pregnancies, and Shamim wanted to focus on taking care of Sulaim and Muhammad before having another child.
Earlier this year, Shamim decided it was time to have another child. Immediately, she knew where she would be going for care. “The moment I learned of my third pregnancy, I knew Shanti Uganda was the best maternal health facility to birth at.”
Shamim gave birth to Swadiq, her third child and second to be born at Shanti, in September. Since then, she’s benefitted from Shanti’s postpartum home outreach visits, and returned to the Birth House for immunizations.
Shamim now does for others what Flora did for her: she tells all of the women in her community about Shanti, and recommends Shanti for care to all the pregnant women she meets.