I am a midwife, childbirth educator, lecturer, doula, and natural mother of eight children. This is not a medical reference; I do not proclaim to give medical advice. Anything stated here is from personal experience, research, study, and opinion. Each woman has the responsibility to do her own research, consult with her own medical team, and make her own decisions about pregnancy and birth.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Birth Domination, Kuwaiti Style

Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim

No matter how many birth stories I read, I am still shocked at the way laboring women are sometimes treated in the hospital.  I can't say enough for the value of childbirth education and knowing what to expect during labor and birth.

Stories like this one touch my heart as I feel for this first-time mother.  Birth should be the most empowering experience of a woman's life, yet often times is full of confusion and dominance.

I truly appreciate this mother sharing her first birth story with me.  She has several other birth stories to tell, so watch coming posts for more, insha'Allah.  Now on to the story...Birth Domination, Kuwaiti Style...

I tried for over a year to get pregnant before finally receiving the good news.  We were very happy about our new arrival!  After all, we had waited all that time trying and worrying.  

I didn’t mind being pregnant.  It wasn’t really that hard at the time.  No real nausea, which was really good since my sister had such awful morning sickness.  


When I was 14 weeks I had a bit of bleeding.  I went into my doctor the same day and they ordered an ultrasound.  It was awful news.  The baby had no heartbeat which meant that the baby was dead.  I was scheduled for a DNC right away.  I went home devastated and waited for my morning appointment to have a DNC.  Early in the morning, before my appointment, I started cramping and bleeding more.  I was having a miscarriage.  I went in and completed the DNC.  The pregnancy was over and all we had was the hope of trying again in 3 months.


I was pregnant again after 3 months which was really wonderful.  I was happy but very scared the same thing would happen again.  I think this lead to my severe morning sickness.  

At first it was just a bit of sickness in the morning.  Then as the pregnancy continued, it lasted longer and longer, to the point that  it never stopped.  I got so sick that I couldn’t eat or drink anything.  And even that didn’t stop my vomiting.  

I vomited so much that I was hospitalized because of it.  I was hospitalized 4 times while I was pregnant, that last time was the longest because I had vomited blood. 

Once I had hit 4 months along, the morning sickness lightened up.  I would take nausea medicine to prevent the vomiting cycle from starting.  As long as I took my medicine and kept something in my stomach at all times, I was okay.  The rest of my pregnancy was pretty much uneventful.  I guess I had my fill during the first trimester. 


So, I’m starting my 9th month of my pregnancy and we decide to move from United States to Kuwait, hoping that my visa would be approved in time so I could deliver in Saudi Arabia.  

Well, that didn’t happen.  I was due on March 1st.  I went into labor the day before my due date.  I had no clue what to do and had no one to ask.  We were living with a family but the lady of the house only spoke Arabic and I only spoke English. 
The contractions started.  I waited as long as I could and then we went off to the hospital.  We decided to go to a Kuwaiti government hospital because money was an issue for us at the time.  

We went to the hospital, they checked me and then sent me home.  I couldn’t believe it.  I was only 3 cm!  How could I go to 10 cm when it already hurt so bad?

So, we went back home.  We waited several more hours and when the pains were so bad that I couldn’t bear it, we went back in.  They checked me and I was only 5cm!  But because my blood pressure was high, they decided to keep me.

So now I’m on my own because the hospital didn’t allow my husband in with me.  No one spoke English and I spoke no Arabic.  I’m thinking, "What have I gotten myself into?!"  They take all my health information and then take me to the delivery room.

It was one huge room with about 10 beds in it.  All the women deliver together!  I couldn’t believe it.  I wanted a private room after all this was my first time and I had no clue what to do or what was going on.  I guess I was lucky to have the midwife I did because she had the other patients moved out of the room so I could have the room to myself.
Now the fun begins!  I wasn’t told anything that was done to me before or even after it was done.  I really hated this about this hospital which I heard later is the norm there.

The doctors came in and checked me.  They broke my water and then left.  The contraction got worse but still wasn’t progressing.  I was then given an IV and I think I was given something to speed up the labor.  I just remember the awful pain and the midwife asking if I wanted something for it.

Of course I said yes, and before I knew it I was knocked out.  Yes, I mean out cold!  I woke up several times to vomit but that’s all I remember.  Then I remember waking up and hearing someone screaming.  I was still out of it but then realize that I’m the one screaming!

The contractions were awful and non-stop.  There was no beginning or end to them, just one huge contraction all the time. Then the midwife tells me to shut up and push.  I woke up and did just that.  It was over after a few pushes but I really don’t remember how many.  I was just glad it was over.


They wiped off the baby, wrap her up and put her in the cradle next to me.  I was then cleaned up and taken to another room where a man (yes, a man!) sewed up my episiotomy.  I didn’t even know I had been cut!

I remember how I could feel the needle going in and out while he was sewing me.  I would say ouch and he told me to shut up (in Arabic).  Then the nurse informed him that I was American and the whole attitude changed.  I don’t know if he was more careful or if he used some kind of painkiller, but it didn’t hurt after that.  I just felt sorry for all the other women that had to deal with him.

So, now I’m taken to my bed along with my baby.  I was happy it was over but so weak from the whole experience.  I had brought everything with me (my husband had it in the car) as I was told to do by someone else, but the hospital wouldn’t allow my husband in to see me until visiting hours which was about 3 hours later.  Everything meant diapers, clothing, blankets for the baby, maternity pads, ect.  It was so nice to see my husband and the bag of goodies he had with him.

When visiting hours finished I was taken to the bathroom so I could clean up.  I so wanted to take a shower but a wave of dizziness hit me and I  almost passed out.  I hurried and finished washing as much as I could and went back to bed.

I shared a room with 5 other ladies.  The room was small and no one spoke English.  I learned quickly how to change and dress a newborn.  I had no clue how to take care of a baby.  I’d never really taken care of one before.  A nurse was kind enough to show me how to breastfeed correctly so the baby can latch on. 


The next day I was released from the hospital and returned to our temporary home.  Everyone was excited about the new baby.  I can’t ever say enough about how wonderful the family we stayed with was, such nice people.

The mother (who spoke no English) would bring me food all day long.  She made special dishes for me with certain spices that are said to help a new mom recover from delivery and get her strength back.

Even though my delivery experience wasn’t the best, I ended up meeting the most wonderful, generous people and had the sweetest baby!


  1. Next time sis go private rather than government as there is a huge difference. I'm an American Muslim with 5 kids and had my last two in Kuwait at private hospitals. Both my experiences were nothing like what you mentioned and were on par with the US. InshaAllah, things will be better for you in times to come.