You are here

I challenged obstetric fistula and I won


When Najat, a midwife from the Dhamar governorate got married and moved to her husband’s village, she made many friends as she provided midwifery services to women in the village.

During her pregnancy, Najat regularly checked her own condition, only to discover that her fetus was not in a proper position, which does not allow for a normal delivery. She knew she would need to go to hospital to get a caesarean section.

Her mother-in-law, the decision-maker in the family where Najat lived did not agree, describing Najat’s request as luxury, claiming that she herself could help her deliver, as she had done so many times before.

 “I cried a lot and felt sorry for myself and my child. I suffered for four days while I tried to push the baby out until I got. I was physically and psychologically worn-out,” she said.

When her husband and his family realized that she was about to die, they reluctantly took her to the hospital that was far from the village, and Najat was immediately admitted for an emergency C-section. Luckily, she gave birth to a healthy baby girl.

When urinary catheter was removed, Najat was surprised to see wetness on her mattress. “I thought that an open water bottle behind me may have fallen without my noticing, but then realized that the wetness was coming from me,” she remembered. It then dawned on her that she had obstetric fistula because of her complicated delivery, which the doctor at the hospital confirmed.

Najat’s fragile condition after her labour required her to stay in hospital for a while. Her husband and mother-in-law insisted on taking her back home. Najat was embarrassed by her new condition and new she needed special care.

“Leaking and walking with the catheter was just embarrassing and humiliating in the presence of my sisters-in-law in the house,” said Najat. “Who would clean after me constantly?  I also had my own daily home chores. I would not be able to handle this. So I decided not to go back to the village.”

Najat went to her parents' house but her husband took the child away from her and returned to his village. Her family tried, in vain, to have the baby visit her in the seven month she stayed with them.

Najat discovered that treatment for obstetric fistula was available in Al-Thawrah Hospital in Sana’a, which is supported by UNFPA. She also found out the treatment was free of charge, so she called the hospital, made an appointment and got treated.

“I cannot describe how I feel about having my physical integrity and dignity restored,” she said. “But I also cannot describe the pain that I feel because of the separation with my child, and my disappointment with my husband.”