JEDDAH: Most women wouldn’t even think of giving birth at home without the expertise of a doctor or midwife and access to modern medical technology.
But Yemeni national Umm Hamada doesn't seem to mind: She's given birth at home seven times, twice while she was alone. She says going to hospital to give birth is a superfluous expense.
“If a sheep can do it, so can a woman," she said. "There weren’t doctors before and women were still giving birth and having healthy babies.”
That doesn't mean she goes into labor unprepared.
“When my delivery time is near, my husband and I prepare everything that is needed, such as sterilized medical scissors to cut the umbilical cord, warm water, towels, sterilized bedding — and the room should be warm. If I go to a clinic or hospital it will cost so much. It’s not that my husband can’t afford it; but why should I spend money unnecessarily?”
Umm Hamada said in Yemen, girls used to be taught about childbirth at a young age.
"As the girls grow up, mothers give birth in front of them so that they can learn how to handle the situation," she added.
It's common in these situations for a female relative or a hired midwife to be present, but one thing that is considered bad is for the woman to cry out during childbirth.
“It’s considered very shameful and the woman is considered weak," Umm Hamada told Arab News.
Yemeni national Umm Zaid said she too gave birth at home, twice.
“If I go to a hospital or clinic it will cost at least SR5,000 and my husband can’t afford it," she said. "I had a Yemeni kablah (midwife) attend to me. She charged SR1,000.”
Gynecologist Dr. Manal Jamal says that giving birth at home is not without its risks. Even if it is a natural process, there is a greater risk of infant mortality or even the death of the mother.
“The child could be at risk, and then the mother faces danger from excessive bleeding after giving birth," said the doctor. "A woman might think that she is having a normal delivery and then some complication happens. There is also the threat of infections because the surrounding and the things used may not be properly sterilized."