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Salahar Bibi’s Story

Salahar Bibi's Story

Salahar Bibi is 26 years old and lives in a village in West Bengal, India. Her first child is seven, and her second child was born 14 days before sharing her experiences.

My first baby was born in a public district hospital 30km from my home. She was seriously ill. She was silent, she had convulsions, and she was excreting meconium (first stool) from her mouth. She spent 18 days in the Intensive Care Unit, and her left side has been affected ever since. She can’t use her left hand and she cannot walk or speak properly.

I think this happened because of incorrect decisions by the doctors during the birth. I was in labour for three days. After delivery, when they took my baby to the intensive care unit, the doctor there told me that they should not have opted for a normal delivery. If a caesarean section had been done, she would have been healthy. But during the delivery, they always told me, “the baby is fine, don’t worry.”

This time, we didn’t want to take any chances. We went to a private health clinic hoping for better quality care and services, and to have a caesarean section to deliver a healthy child. My husband and I planned to go to the private facility from the beginning.

The private clinic is almost 10 km from my home. I went there by rickshaw. My pregnancy was not at full term but there was a complication and I felt the baby had stopped moving, so I went for a check-up. The baby was not unwell but the doctor decided to do a caesarean section to get a healthy baby. During the delivery, I received very good care.

I had very good quality care before my delivery, too. An ASHA[1] worker lives nearby, and she often came to my home to look after me, performing all the check-ups and helping me with nutrition.

[1] Accredited social health activists (ASHAs) are community health workers instituted by the government of India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare as part of the National Rural Health Mission