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Being a mother…what it really takes!

DR BOIMA

HEALTH ISSUES

 

This Sunday we will all be chanting “happy mother’s day” phrase. It is a widely celebrated day where mothers get showered with gifts and words of appreciation but do we ever pause, look at it on a much deeper level and try to understand what it really means to be a mother?

 I am not yet a mother but I deal with potential mothers, new mothers, women who desperately want to be mothers and women who die trying to become mothers on a daily basis to know! While many know a mother as a person who is everything to everyone in the house;

a planner, a cook, a driver, a counselor, a doctor, a companion and the list goes on; the image of a mother that is stuck in my mind is that of a woman who enters the consultation room barely able to walk with visibly swollen legs, and almost out of breath while trying to find a comfortable position in her seat; that woman with clenched teeth and a hand rolled into a fist in the delivery room who is determined to finish what she started; that woman pouring buckets of blood in the operating theatre in a bid to bring a healthy baby into this world, and still managing a “where is my baby” after anesthesia wears off despite the pain that she is in. Now this is the mother that my profession has accustomed me to. Before then I would never have known!

Pregnancy

While it takes both the mother and the father to contribute towards conception of the baby, it is the woman who actually carries the unborn baby for nine full months before she eventually delivers it.  There is no doubt that pregnancy is a blessing, but with that blessing comes a few woes. Pregnancy can be tough on both the body and mind and this is the time when the woman needs utmost support especially that of her partner.


Morning Sickness – Ask any mother hunched over the toilet or diligently sipping on warm water and sniffing on ginger if she is excited about the pregnancy and she will most likely tell you yes, she cannot wait for the baby, but she did not really plan for THIS! Morning sickness, which is really all day and even all night sickness, hits about 80% of pregnant women. Expectant women experience morning sickness differently, for some it is on the extreme and requires medications and even recurrent hospitalization to control.

 

They will vomit just about anything and everything that does not only come through their mouth but pass by their noses too. Some women find it hard to even stomach the taste of toothpaste and you can imagine this having to be a daily (twice daily) torture. These symptoms are usually the first clue to a newly pregnant woman that making a baby is not all fun and games.


Weight changes -The biggest dreaded pregnancy woe for many women is weight gain. Many women feel pregnancy would be a lot less painful if there weren’t “recommended” amounts of weight gain. Some women feel stressed because they lose weight in the first trimester thanks to severe morning sickness. Others gain “too much” weight initially as they eat to quell that same nausea and from the non-ending cravings.  So it is a vicious cycle honestly.


Sleeping woes – Peaceful sleep is a luxury during pregnancy. First one has to use the bathroom more often around the clock. That means making frequent night trips. Also finding the most comfortable position is almost a nightmare as the belly grows; it is frankly uncomfortable to lie on your side without the right kind of support.


Body pains – As pregnancy progresses, the body is undergoing significant changes. For one thing, the uterus will ultimately grow to about 1,000 times its normal size! As a result of these changes, many women experience discomfort. Round ligament pain, is particularly the common pain that troubles most women during pregnancy. It can be a general ache in one’s joints and abdomen (sharp in nature). Carrying extra kilograms can put stress on one’s back muscles too.


Constipation and haemorrhoids – hormonal changes during pregnancy and iron supplements can slow down the digestion and cause constipation in pregnant women. Plus, near the end of pregnancy the pressure that the uterus exerts on the rectum can add to the problem. The constant constipation as well as the pressure of the uterus on the veins can cause haemorrhoids hence why this is common during pregnancy.


Oedema – having a puffy face, big nose, swelling on the hands, legs, ankles, and feet is quite normal in pregnancy. It is caused by the extra fluid that develops in one’s body during  pregnancy. This swelling tends to be worst in the third trimester. This can cause quite a cosmetic discomfort for many women and even disfigure them. Others – Heartburn, recurrent vaginal yeast infections, recurrent urinary tract infections are just some of the conditions that are synonymous with pregnancy that one has to deal with.

Child birth

To save time we will only discuss normal childbirth and spare the complications for another day. Labour Pain –labour pain has been described as the worst pain ever to be experienced by a human being. It has been likened to fracturing 20 bones at the same time. Let’s just say, while this analogy is a myth, labour is painful but we just cannot measure how painful it is! The amount of pain the woman feels at childbirth is a completely individual experience. Some women vow never to allow themselves to go through that again while some even enjoy the experience (with adequate analgesia though). Having a partner in the delivery room is one of the favours that men can do for their women as this has been proved to reduce labour pain significantly.


Bleeding – there is significant amounts of blood lost during and even after childbirth (both vaginal and Caesarean-Section). If this is not controlled enough, it can even claim the life of the birthing mother. Infections – let us face it, a lot happens around the time of delivery; with lots of poking, pricking, cuttings, suturing etc. exposing the mother to lots of infections. As with bleeding, if this is not adequately managed, it has a potential to kill.


Death – Maternal death is nothing new especially in our country. This is an unfortunate time that anyone can ever die.  Unfortunately there are couples that have gone into the delivery room with only one thing in mind – ‘bringing a new life into this world’, only to lose life in there. No woman should die while giving birth, but unfortunately this is just how much risk women get exposed to during both pregnancy and childbirth compared to their male counterparts. A lot of lives have been lost during something that is supposed to be as natural as giving birth.


That is why I am saying it takes a lot to be a mother. Lives are getting sacrificed every day to be a mother. Lives have been lost to be a mother. This is a fact that we cannot run away from. Mothers are amazing beings! Even more amazing are those single mothers that had to deal with the ordeal of an absent partner who immediately disappeared the moment he learnt about  the pregnancy and they were forced to go through it all alone, and raise the kids without a  tinge of support (financial, physical or emotional) from the partner.

Happy mother’s day to all!

For comments or questions please email agboima@yahoo.com

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The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020
JEFF---Batswana-smoke-unit

Seventy-seven years ago, on the evening of December 2, 1943, the Germans launched a surprise air raid on allied shipping in the Italian port of Bari, which was then the key supply centre for the British 8th army’s advance in Italy.

The attack was spearheaded by 105 Junkers JU88 bombers under the overall command of the infamous Air Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen (who had initially achieved international notoriety during the Spanish Civil War for his aerial bombardment of Guernica). In a little over an hour the German aircraft succeeded in sinking 28 transport and cargo ships, while further inflicting massive damage to the harbour’s facilities, resulting in the port being effectively put out of action for two months.

Over two thousand ground personnel were killed during the raid, with the release of a secret supply of mustard gas aboard one of the destroyed ships contributing to the death toll, as well as subsequent military and civilian casualties. The extent of the later is a controversy due to the fact that the American and British governments subsequently covered up the presence of the gas for decades.

At least five Batswana were killed and seven critically wounded during the raid, with one of the wounded being miraculously rescued floating unconscious out to sea with a head wound. He had been given up for dead when he returned to his unit fourteen days later. The fatalities and casualties all occurred when the enemy hit an ammunition ship adjacent to where 24 Batswana members of the African Pioneer Corps (APC) 1979 Smoke Company where posted.

Thereafter, the dozen surviving members of the unit distinguished themselves for their efficiency in putting up and maintaining smokescreens in their sector, which was credited with saving additional shipping. For his personal heroism in rallying his men following the initial explosions Company Corporal Chitu Bakombi was awarded the British Empire Medal, while his superior officer, Lieutenant N.F. Moor was later given an M.B.E.

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A Strong Marriage Bond Needs Two

8th December 2020

Remember: bricks and cement are used to build a house, but mutual love, respect and companionship are used to build a HOME. And amongst His signs is this: He creates for you mates out of your own kind, so that you may find contentment (Sukoon) with them, and He engenders love and tenderness between you; in this behold, there are signs (messages) indeed for people who reflect and think (Quran 30:21).

This verse talks about contentment; this implies companionship, of their being together, sharing together, supporting one another and creating a home of peace. This verse also talks about love between them; this love is both physical and emotional. For love to exist it must be built on the foundation of a mutually supportive relationship guided by respect and tenderness. As the Quran says; ‘they are like garments for you, and you are garments for them (Quran 2:187)’. That means spouses should provide each other with comfort, intimacy and protection just as clothing protects, warms and dignifies the body.

In Islam marriage is considered an ‘ibaadah’, (an act of pleasing Allah) because it is about a commitment made to each other, that is built on mutual love, interdependence, integrity, trust, respect, companionship and harmony towards each other. It is about building of a home on an Islamic foundation in which peace and tranquillity reigns wherein your offspring are raised in an atmosphere conducive to a moral and upright upbringing so that when we all stand before Him (Allah) on that Promised Day, He will be pleased with them all.

Most marriages start out with great hopes and rosy dreams; spouses are truly committed to making their marriages work. However, as the pressures of life mount, many marriages change over time and it is quite common for some of them to run into problems and start to flounder as the reality of living with a spouse that does not meet with one’s pre-conceived ‘expectations’. However, with hard work and dedication, couples can keep their marriages strong and enjoyable. How is it done? What does it take to create a long-lasting, satisfying marriage?

Below are some of the points that have been taken from a marriage guidance article I read recently and adapted for this purposes.

POSITIVITY
Spouses should have far more positive than negative interactions. If there is too much negativity — criticizing, demanding, name-calling, holding grudges, etc. — the relationship will suffer. However, if there is never any negativity, it probably means that frustrations and grievances are not getting ‘air time’ and unresolved tension is accumulating inside one or both partners waiting to ‘explode’ one day.

“Let not some men among you laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor let some women laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames.” (49:11)

We all have our individual faults though we may not see them nor want to admit to them but we will easily identify them in others. The key is balance between the two extremes and being supportive of one another. To foster positivity in a marriage that help make them stable and happy, being affectionate, truly listening to each other, taking joy in each other’s achievements and being playful are just a few examples of positive interactions.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “The believers who show the most perfect faith are those who have the best character and the best of you are those who are best to their wives”

UNDERSTANDING

Another characteristic of happy marriages is empathy; understanding your spouses’ perspective by putting oneself in his or her shoes. By showing that understanding and identifying with your spouse is important for relationship satisfaction. Spouses are more likely to feel good about their marriage and if their partner expresses empathy towards them. Husbands and wives are more content in their relationships when they feel that their partners understand their thoughts and feelings.

Successful married couples grow with each other; it simply isn’t wise to put any person in charge of your happiness. You must be happy with yourself before anyone else can be.  You are responsible for your actions, your attitudes and your happiness. Your spouse just enhances those things in your life. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.”

COMMITMENT

Successful marriages involve both spouses’ commitment to the relationship. The married couple should learn the art of compromise and this usually takes years. The largest parts of compromise are openness to the other’s point of view and good communication when differences arise.

When two people are truly dedicated to making their marriage work, despite the unavoidable challenges and obstacles that come, they are much more likely to have a relationship that lasts. Husbands and wives who only focus on themselves and their own desires are not as likely to find joy and satisfaction in their relationships.

ACCEPTANCE

Another basic need in a relationship is each partner wants to feel valued and respected. When people feel that their spouses truly accept them for who they are, they are usually more secure and confident in their relationships. Often, there is conflict in marriage because partners cannot accept the individual preferences of their spouses and try to demand change from one another. When one person tries to force change from another, he or she is usually met with resistance.

However, change is much more likely to occur when spouses respect differences and accept each other unconditionally. Basic acceptance is vital to a happy marriage. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “It is the generous (in character) who is good to women, and it is the wicked who insults them.”
“Overlook (any human faults) with gracious forgiveness.” (Quran 15:85)

COMPASSION, MUTUAL LOVE AND RESPECT

Other important components of successful marriages are love, compassion and respect for each other. The fact is, as time passes and life becomes increasingly complicated, the marriage is often stressed and suffers as a result. A happy and successful marriage is based on equality. When one or the other dominates strongly, intimacy is replaced by fear of displeasing.

It is all too easy for spouses to lose touch with each other and neglect the love and romance that once came so easily. It is vital that husbands and wives continue to cultivate love and respect for each other throughout their lives. If they do, it is highly likely that their relationships will remain happy and satisfying. Move beyond the fantasy and unrealistic expectations and realize that marriage is about making a conscious choice to love and care for your spouse-even when you do not feel like it.

Seldom can one love someone for whom we have no respect. This also means that we have to learn to overlook and forgive the mistakes of one’s partner. In other words write the good about your partner in stone and the bad in dust, so that when the wind comes it blows away the bad and only the good remains.

Paramount of all, marriage must be based on the teachings of the Noble Qur’an and the teachings and guidance of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). To grow spiritually in your marriage requires that you learn to be less selfish and more loving, even during times of conflict. A marriage needs love, support, tolerance, honesty, respect, humility, realistic expectations and a sense of humour to be successful.

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Chronic Joblessness: How to Help Curtail it

30th November 2020
Motswana woman

The past week or two has been a mixed grill of briefs in so far as the national employment picture is concerned. BDC just injected a further P64 million in Kromberg & Schubert, the automotive cable manufacturer and exporter, to help keep it afloat in the face of the COVID-19-engendered global economic apocalypse. The financial lifeline, which follows an earlier P36 million way back in 2017, hopefully guarantees the jobs of 2500, maybe for another year or two.

It was also reported that a bulb manufacturing company, which is two years old and is youth-led, is making waves in Selibe Phikwe. Called Bulb Word, it is the only bulb manufacturing operation in Botswana and employs 60 people. The figure is not insignificant in a town that had 5000 jobs offloaded in one fell swoop when BCL closed shop in 2016 under seemingly contrived circumstances, so that as I write, two or three buyers have submitted bids to acquire and exhume it from its stage-managed grave.

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