Besieged at birth

Besieged at birth

By Ubeer Naqushbandi   
Srinagar: “This boy came into the world in a war-like situation. I hope he will be a harbinger of peace,” said Rafeeqa, 27, of her first child, born at Srinagar’s Lalla Ded maternity hospital. “It is altogether a different feeling: becoming a mother,” she said.
Two days before, when Rafeeqa had developed labour pains, her husband Nisar Ahmed and other family members had a tough time in taking her from Nagam (in Chadoora in Budgam district) to the LD hospital. “We took her first to the nearby Chadoora hospital. The doctors referred her to LD hospital in Srinagar,” Nisar Ahmad said.
The unrest in Kashmir has, among other problems, made it difficult, and dangerous, for women in labour pain to reach hospital on time. Dr Farhana at LD hospital said that the life of both mother and child are at risk in such stressful, fearful conditions.
“In this situation when the valley is witnessing curbs and curfew, pregnant ladies could come to drastic harm. When a pregnant woman is under stress, her blood-pressure is likely to rise. This hypertension can affect the blood flow to the baby in the womb. Also, due to stress, pregnant women may eat less and the baby inside the womb may suffer malnutrition.”
Dr Farhana said that a child could be born with low weight, retarded growth, and even less brain development if the mother was under stress during pregnancy.
Beside Rafeeqa at the LD hospital lay another new mother, Shaheena, 33 years old, whose dream of having a child had turned real after nine years of wait.
A resident of Tral’s Syedabad village, Shaheena was brought to hospital by her husband Mohammad Iqbal Khan in a load-carrier. “I couldn’t arrange for any other means of transport,” her husband, Iqbal, explained.
Iqbal said that the safest time to leave for Srinagar from Tral was before dawn. “The road is devoid of protestors and forces personnel,” he said.
All through the journey Iqbal worried about his wife and child. “With God’s grace, we safely reached LD,” he said at the hospital.
According to medical records of LD hospital, since the uprising began on July 8, 3,221 births have taken place at the hospital, of them 1,225 normal deliveries and 1,996 caesarian.
The lack of transport is not the only problem that pregnant women face in the situation that is prevailing in the Valley. On her way to Srinagar, the ambulance in which Rafeeqa was travelling was stopped by CRPF personnel near grid station Chadoora, her husband said.  “We pleaded with them to allow us passage but they didn’t listen,” Nisar Ahmad said.
When they took an alternate route, they were again stopped at Mochuwa near the railway crossing. This time it was by protestors. “The protestors let us pass after removing wooden logs, electric poles and other barricades from the road,” Nisar Ahmad said.
After two kilometres, CRPF personnel at Chanapora halted the ambulance. “You are transporting rock throwers in this ambulance,” a CRPF man had told the ambulance driver, Nisar said. The driver swiftly opened the door of the ambulance to let the troopers see who he was carrying.
After frequent stops, taking alternate routes on the force’s “dictations”, Rafeeqa finally reached LD hospital, where after a few hours she delivered a baby boy.

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