Maternal Mortality Is A Serious Problem in Gambia and Africa At Large. Here Is What We Know.

The sisters show sends their heartfelt condolences to the families of the late Fatou Jobarteh and the most recent victim, Mengeh Joof (Source, What’s on Gambia). Fatou and Mengeh are both young Gambian women that lost their lives shortly after giving birth. Unfortunately, these two women are amongst many other women that have lost their lives for giving birth in the continent of Africa.

Maternal mortality is a serious problem in Gambia and a lot of other African countries. With the inception of social media, we have seen an open public outcry of this heart retching issue.

One of the most common causes of maternal mortality in Africa is postpartum hemorrhage.  This is a condition in which a woman losses a very large amount of blood after childbirth. Some incidence can be delayed for as long as 12weeks after childbirth.

The main symptom is vaginal bleeding. If the woman losses a lot of blood she might have symptoms of weakness, fatigue, lightheadedness, dizziness, elevated heart rate, shortness of breath etc. These symptoms usually happen after a high amount of blood is lost.  It is important to note that vaginal bleeding after childbirth slowly decreases overtime. Although if a woman is having very heavy bleeding, which is soaking through at least 2 maxi pads every hour for at least 2hours, it warrants medical attention.

The most common cause of postpartum hemorrhage is when the uterus does not contract (tighten) after delivery.  Other common causes includes, having vaginal or cervical tears after delivery or having small pieces of the placenta or membranes that stay stuck to the uterus after the baby is born.

Postpartum hemorrhage is unpredictable, however there are many risk factors that can increase a woman’s risk to bleed after childbirth. Some of these risks includes, having a history of postpartum hemorrhage, having twins/ multiple gestations, uterine fibroids, macrosomia (large baby), diagnosis of polyhydramnios (high amount of amniotic fluid), history of four or more previous deliveries, rapid delivery etc.

It is important for pregnant women to attend their antennal visits and complete their required pregnancy workups. Antenatal in women can make postpartum hemorrhage even more complicated. Anemia is a common issue in pregnancy and Iron deficiency anemia is the most common form of anemia seen during pregnancy. This is because during pregnancy the demand for iron significantly increases due to the increase requirement to make more blood to supply oxygen to the baby. Women can boost their iron stores by consuming Iron rich foods e.g. red meat, poultry, fish, dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach moringa powder, beans etc. If a woman is anemic, her healthcare provider might recommend starting Iron supplements.

What can pregnant women do if they reside in a country like The Gambia or other parts of Africa?  If a blood bank is not accessible and the the women suffer from anemia or have risk factors for postpartum hemorrhage we recommend identifying a person who is available to donate blood in the event they need it during delivery. This could help minimize the hassle of trying to get a compatible blood donor at a critical point that they might urgently need it.

We are truly saddened with the continuous lost of young lives from maternal mortality. May all the victims Rest in Peace and we hope to all do our parts as a society to bring more awareness to this concerning matter.



Abe Willson Administrator
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