A public health physician, Dr. Omolara Adetukasi, in this chat with ARUKAINO UMUKORO talks about her experiences during pregnancy and birth of her baby. She further tells why Women should give birth before 35, please read!
When were you delivered of your baby?
It was on March 18. My baby is seven months old and she is my third child.
How would you describe the labour experience?
I would say the labour was easier this time, maybe it was because I have been ‘there and done that’ (laughs). But of course, labour is always painful; it was a natural birth, not through caesarean operation. My labour did not last for too long. It started at 9am in the morning and by 12.30pm, I put to bed.
My husband was not around so I had to call my brothers-in-law to take me to the hospital. I made a lot of noise but it all went well.
Did you feel disappointed that your husband was not around?
No I did not. He left in the morning to attend a friend’s baby’s christening ceremony somewhere in Lagos. My husband is a pastor. While he was on the way, I began to sense that I was going to go into labour. I called him. But he could not turn back and drive home because there was a lot of traffic at the time. So, he asked me to call his brothers to take me to the hospital.
He said he would come to meet us there. But before he got there or even finished christening the child, I had already been delivered of the baby.
What was his first reaction when he got to the hospital?
He was excited that our third is a girl. We now have three beautiful daughters. When he came to the hospital, his first concern was me, and of course, the baby. He was present during the birth of our first two daughters. The birth of the third child was what he missed. He wanted to know that I was fine and that there was no problem. When he saw that mother and child were doing well, he was happy.
Are you bothered that all your children are female taking into cognisance the African notion concerning the male child?
I have three wonderful girls and my husband adores his girls. I adore my girls too. We are not bothered. Of course, at first, I wanted a boy; we prayed and believed for a boy this time. But we have a wonderful daughter, her name is Zoe. She is absolutely lovable and we are happy.
How was your last pregnancy different from the others?
The pregnancy was different, maybe it was because my body was beginning to age. I had my first two children before I was 30. But I had my third child in my early thirties. The first few months were okay, but along the line, my body experienced some things it did not experience in my first two pregnancies. I had haemorrhoids. I was always physically tired. I also had swollen limbs and sleepless nights. It was not that I was sick this time but the first two pregnancies were quite graceful for me because I was younger. I just felt that age told on me during the last pregnancy body wise. And it took quite a while also for my body to come back to normal after I had put to bed. Usually, what happened to me is that in two or three weeks after giving birth, I regained my body shape. But in this case, it took about a while longer; about two months. Two or three weeks after the birth of the baby, my legs were still swollen and my body ached. I had to get people to massage my back.
There has been much development in medicine and women give birth at 40. What would you tell women who are above 30 about pregnancy?
Medically and as a medical doctor, we usually advise women that they should be through with childbearing at the age of 35. It is not as if we would tell an elderly woman who wants a baby not to try. Also, with the way our health system is and the disease pattern in Nigeria, one realises that some diseases begin to creep in after a certain age. Some of these diseases are hypertension and diabetes because of our lifestyle and the things that we eat. That might affect the health of the woman.
With good health care, it is possible for a woman above 35 to give birth easily, of course. But if a woman at 35 wants to give birth, she should know that she needs more medical attention. She needs to be properly registered with a qualified obstetrician and gynaecologist. She needs more care, eat the right kind of food, do the right kind of exercise and to be conscious about her health.
Have you taken the delivery of a baby before?
Oh, yes I have, but not alone. I have assisted in the delivery of babies.
What is the difference between when you delivered other women of their babies and when others helped you to do same?
In the labour room, one forgets about one’s identity or status. By the time the pain starts, one forgets that one is a medical doctor and all that medical jargon flies off one’s head. Even though I am a doctor and I was delivered of my baby by a midwife, I had to trust her experience and exercise and do what she said I should do because, at that time, I was the patient and not the doctor. I just wanted to give birth hence I cooperated with her.
How did you feel the first time you saw your baby’s face?
I think the feeling is always the same. I just felt like, “Did this child come out of me, am I a part of this beautiful creation, and was I the one that brought out this life?” One feels warmth, excitement and sense of ownership, knowing that the child is one’s. And of course, one feels a powerful kind of love that cannot be described. Motherhood starts from the time one is carrying the child in the womb, but when the child is in one’s hand, there is this reality of knowing that one is now a mother.
How has motherhood changed you?
Motherhood is demanding and I have found out that motherhood helps one to prioritise. Before I became a mother, I could describe myself as a bit selfish because I always put myself first. But motherhood has made me put others ahead of myself. Before I eat or have a bath, my kids have to eat or have a bath first. Before I sleep, my kids have to be asleep first. Motherhood has made me more compassionate and a better person altogether. It has made me consider other people higher than myself; I have found out that I look out for the good of others above myself.
How did your husband assist you during and after your pregnancy?
My husband is a fantastic man. If there is anything like paternity leave, I think it should come to people like him because from day one he has been very helpful, he is the kind of person that bathes his baby. He is always there, he backs the baby if need be, and he rocks them to sleep. We do not have a housemaid, although I had help from my mother-in-law, who came around for some weeks. But after she left, it was me and my husband. If I was bathing the baby, he would be there to hand me the soap, sponge and the baby oil. After that, he dresses the baby and vice- versa. He also helped with the other children too. He drops and picks them from school, and helps with their homework, everything that would give me free time and to help me take care of my baby. I appreciate it so much.
Before giving birth, what kind of food did you crave for?
I do not think I am one of those women that are given to any particular food cravings. But I loved to eat out. I preferred to eat food cooked by someone else than myself. While I did not have any craving for a particular kind of food, I had a big appetite for food. By 9am, if I had not eaten, there would be trouble. Usually, we do not take breakfast on Sunday morning, but during the pregnancy, I would not be able to listen to the sermon by 9am. Hence, I had to leave the church to find something to eat.
What was your baby’s weight at birth?
She weighed three kilogrammes.
What’s your advice to potential mothers or pregnant women who may be anxious about the process of birth?
From a mother’s perspective, I trusted God, as a Christian, even when I saw some things, I had haemorrhoids which wasn’t normal. I trusted God to see me through the whole nine, month journey. Delivery is a normal thing. I believed God that I would not have any hassles because even animals put to bed. But at the same time, despite the fact that I am a pastor and a medical doctor, I ensured that I registered in a good hospital and I attended my ante-natal clinics as much as I could. Whenever I had any issue, even if I could not go to the hospital for some reasons, I contacted some of my medical friends from time to time. My piece of advice to pregnant and expectant women is that they should believe and trust God. It is a beautiful experience and by God’s grace, everything will work out well.