Women and Birth
School of Nursing and Midwifery
Edith Cowan University
An obstetric fistula also known as vesico vaginal fistula (VVF), or recto-vaginal fistula (RVF) is an abnormal opening between the urogenital tract and intestinal tract caused by prolonged obstructed labour; when the head of the baby presses on the soft tissues in the pelvis leading to loss of blood flow to the women’s bladder, vagina, and rectum. This can cause necrosis of the soft tissues resulting in debilitating fistula formations.
This study aimed to uncover North-central Nigerian women’s experiences of obstetric fistula and their perceived treatment services.
Qualitative, interpretive descriptive methodology underpinned by symbolic interactionism involving face-to-face semi-structured interviews was used to explore North-central Nigerian women’s experiences of obstetric fistula and their perceived treatment services.
A purposive sample of 15 women who had experienced obstetric fistula at a repair Centre in North-central Nigeria were eligible.
Four themes emerged from North-central Nigerian women’s experiences of obstetric fistula and their perceived treatment services i) I was left alone in the room ii) Waiting for the one vehicle in the village iii) I never knew about labour until that very day iv) and We kept following the native doctors and sorcerers.
The findings from this study highlighted the depth of women’s experiences from the devastating complication of childbirth injury in North-central Nigeria. Analysis of insights from women’s voices directly affected by obstetric fistula demonstrated that in their views and experiences the themes identified were majorly responsible for their fistula status. Thus women need to raise their collective voices to resist oppressive harmful traditions and demand empowerment opportunities that will improve their social status. Government should improve primary healthcare facilities, train more midwives and subsidise maternal care for antenatal education and birth services spending for childbirth women may result in improved childbirth experiences for women in rural and urban communities.
Reproductive women call for increased accessibility to healthcare services and the provision of more midwives to mitigate obstetric fistula in North-central Nigerian communities.
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