Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Multiparity


The last two weeks of May involved teaching at a maternity ward downtown. My job was to help introduce fourth year medical students to 'normal' birth. Much of our time was spent labour watching, timing contractions, evaluating fetal heart tones, and palpating fetal positions. However, we also got to do a number of newborn exams and assist in a few births.

One day we arrived to find a young woman occupying one of the labour beds. Naturally, we assumed she was pregnant (as her fundal height was marked), so I told two of the students to time her contractions. Ten minutes later when I came back to see how things were going, I was informed she was not in labour and that her babies were in the other room.

So I instructed them to get her obstetrical history instead.


The new mother explained that she was a 20-years-old mother of six. Earlier that day, she had delivered twins at home. She came to the maternity ward for the birth certificate but did not seem very interested in any other service. Since her babies (a boy and a girl) were cold and covered in sand, the nursing staff had taken them for evaluation and placed them in a warmer.

The mother explained that she had delivered her first child at the age of 11 and that her previous four pregnancies were simple. This was her first set of twins, however. 

She didn't want to talk much about the particulars, so we didn't press her for more information. Although I know 11-year-olds can get pregnant, my heart hurts to think that this mother has so many mouths to feed and so much responsibility...  at such a young age.

What were you doing at the age of 20?