A renowned traditional birth attendant in the coast region has come in handy for expectant mothers assisting about 20 women every week to give birth at home since December 10 when doctors went on strike.
Ms Milka Daido, 68, and her 10 other midwives have helped at least 100 expectant mothers from Mombasa, Kwale and Tana River counties to deliver safely at home.
“We have helped over 100 expectant mothers to deliver either at this traditional home delivery centre or at their homes. Among them 10 are HIV positive,” she said.
With the HIV positive expectant mothers, Ms Daido says she tries her best to ensure mothers do not infect the infants through their blood during delivery.
“I also counsel them and I take them for tests until we are sure the babies are safe,” said the born again Christian, member of Kiembeni Baptist churh.
Ms Daido started her midwifery centre, Bamako Traditional Birth Attendant centre, in Kiembeni 10 years ago.
At the centre, she cooks for her patients, bathes and massages the expectant mothers.
“It is just like a maternity wing but we do it traditionally. We offer all services until both the baby and the mother get well. Sometimes this centre is full in that I am forced to use my bedroom,” said Ms Daido.
When the Nation.co.ke visited the centre, three expectant mothers were waiting to be attended to.
She said expectant mothers are now turning to midwives due to the ongoing doctors’ strike and because private hospitals are taking advantage by overcharging.
Ms Daido has two rooms with four beds equipped with midwifery materials and drugs which she uses to help women deliver. She also has a special unit for premature babies.
“When we were young, there were no incubators, our grandparents used to improvise them. If I get a premature baby I make a special warm bed and take care of the baby until it is of age,” she added.
She said the premature baby is kept in a warm place preferably a baby cot, covered with blankets and sheets to make sure they keep warm.
“We don’t bath the premature babies, we rub them with natural coconut oil while in the traditional incubator. We also use a jiko to ensure maintain warm temperatures and they are always under mosquito nets,” she added.
Ms Daido said majority of those who seek her services cannot afford private hospitals which charge exorbitantly due to the doctor’s strike.
“Right now private hospitals charge around Sh20, 000 for delivery services, more so doctors are now using caesarean section (C-section) which is very expensive,” she said.
Last week, three expectant mothers who had gone to seek maternity services at Port Reitz Hospital, the second largest hospital in Mombasa County were turned away due to the doctors’ strike.
“I had gone to give birth at Port Reitz at night but I was told by the watchmen that the hospital was not offering such services due to the doctor’s strike,” said Evelyn Mueni who later gave birth at a private hospital in Magongo.
Before the strike, Ms Daido said she used to serve around 10 expectant mothers weekly but there has been an upsurge due to the strike.
She charges between Sh2000 and Sh4000 for the services.
After delivery, the traditional birth attendant nurses her patients until both the baby and the mother are well.
“I also advise them on what to eat and how to wean,” she added.
Ms Daido, a mother of eight, started midwifery in 1982 in Tana River County.
“I was trained at Coast General Provincial Hospital as a community health worker, later, I took courses on midwifery which were being offered by non-governmental organization (NGO),” she said.
Ms Daido said she was also taught the traditional midwifery by her grandmother while in Tana River.
She has trained 10 other women on traditional midwifery around the coast.