My Mother, the Traditional Birth Attendant

My mother is a woman of many talents – natural leader, excellent at knitting (won third place in a national championship), excellent gardener and these are only some talents I can think of. She has also been a community leader for decades as she has a heart for the communities she lives. She started volunteering with the Red Cross in the early sixties and is now a “Life Member” since the early 2000’s. She only slowed down because of age.

Her involvement with the Red Cross years earlier, led to her desire to be a Traditional Birth Attendant (TBA) as my township did not have a clinic nearby. Labor waits for no one, so my mother wanted to be on call at any time, especially at night, and help local mothers-to-be deliver with someone who knew what to do albeit at a semi-professional level.

Mum’s employer allowed her to take every Thursday afternoon off so that she could go to our nearest clinic to learn how to deliver babies. She did this religiously for a couple years. Upon qualifying, people in my township were informed that my mother was a TBA and they should call on her first when they are in labor. I must say that mum was kept very, very busy.

I was spending the night at my parents’ home one day when there was a knock around 1.00 am and a man announced that he was Mr. S from directly across the street and that his wife was in labor. My mother woke up immediately and went off. She came back 30 minutes later. I asked her how the baby and mother were, but she said Mrs. S had not yet delivered. She started making a fire (since we had no electricity) and put a pot of water on the fire. Apparently Mrs. S was too weak to deliver so mum cooked some porridge for her. I must tell you that this was the fastest cooked porridge on record! She went back to Mrs. S’ and returned home after about 30 minutes. My mother was so exhausted that I felt sorry for her, but thankfully the baby had arrived healthy and perfect. Mrs. B had regained her strength after eating the porridge and had not had a problem with the delivery after that. I was amazed at how mum took this all in her stride and woke up the next day as if nothing had happened. I would have been beating my chest and telling everyone about the good deed I had done – uhm, maybe not.

She has delivered dozens of babies, but one story she told me has stuck. One of my parents’ neighbors, Dave, called my mother when his wife went into labor. The baby was born with the umbilical cord around its neck and was weak. My mother and Dave’s mother-in-law ran to the clinic on foot with the baby. This was the first time my mother had delivered a child born with a baby in that condition, so she did not wanted professionals to take a look at her. The mother was left at home to rest a bit, clean up and then hitch a bike ride from her Dave.

My parents’ relationship with the new parents grew a lot after this. I must mention that mum was a volunteer and was never paid for her services, but one thing that she gained more than money are the relationships she has formed with people around her. There have been many times when we would be walking and a child shouts “Hello, grandma”. I wasn’t surprised because most neighborhood children call older ladies that as a sign of respect, but one day mum smiled and said she couldn’t believe that the child she had delivered was already such a big girl. I expressed my surprise and mum told me that parents tell their children that mum was their midwife. When those children say “grandma” they mean it in the literal sense and show her more affection than other neighborhood children. So not only do my parents have deep relationships with parents, but equally meaningful relationships with the children too.

I wish I could live my life half as fruitfully and satisfying as my mother has with hers.

11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. anotherday2paradise
    Aug 10, 2020 @ 15:36:10

    Thanks so much for sharing your story. Your mother sounds like a wonderful and selfless person. You must be so proud of her. My mom’s first baby was born with the umbilical cord around his neck, but he didn’t survive. Maybe if your mom had been in attendance, I’d have an older brother.

    Reply

  2. allysoally
    Jul 24, 2020 @ 11:36:42

    This is such a beautiful story, your Mum is a hero in my eyes. She is an example of how the world is supposed to be. Thank you for telling us these wonderful stories, I wish more people knew about them.

    Reply

  3. arlingwoman
    Jul 18, 2020 @ 16:21:57

    I love these stories. What a treasure your mother is!

    Reply

  4. SaaniaSparkle 🧚🏻‍♀️
    Jul 18, 2020 @ 07:09:04

    Nice blog

    Reply

  5. Lisa Bradshaw
    Jul 17, 2020 @ 14:38:25

    Wow.. your mother is one special person.. What a blessing to be bought up in a home like that with such a wonderful person.

    Reply

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