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International Day to End Obstetric Fistula

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May 23 is the United Nations’ (UN) International Day to End Obstetric Fistula, which promotes action towards treating and preventing obstetric fistula, a condition that affects many girls and women in developing countries

Pregnancy can be a challenging process. Approximately 250 babies are born every minute in the world. However, many pregnant women do not have access to high-quality medical care or resources. This can lead to many complications during pregnancy and childbirth which may sometimes even prove fatal for the baby and the mother. Obstetric fistula is one of the many difficulties faced by pregnant mothers during childbirth delivery. Read on to know how a fistula forms, how it is fixed, and how can it be prevented.

What is Obstetric Fistula?

Waiting for medical help for a long time can lead to prolonged labour and pose complications during childbirth. Whilst normal labour pushes the baby down through the birth canal, in approximately one in 20 women, the baby is too large and descent in a bizarre fashion. The bladder can get trapped between the baby’s head, and the mother’s pubic bone and the prolonged pressure can reduce blood flow to the tissue. If the tissue dies, an obstetric fistula, a hole between the vagina or the bladder or the rectum may form. A lot of women who endured obstetric labour have gone through labour that lasted three days long. 

How is Obstetric Fistula Treated?

Obstetric fistula is repairable but should only be done by and expert fistula surgeon. Fistulas may need a repair of the bladder, or a more expensive surgery may be required. All cases of fistula are different, and one woman’s experience can be quite different from another’s. Some women may still leak urine a bit even if the fistula has been repaired and some women may need additional surgery. 

What Can You Do to Prevent Obstetric Fistula?

Obstetric fistula can be prevented by a proper diagnosis of obstructed labour and provision of a C-section. By planning your pregnancy and delivery, including emergencies, you will be able to avoid this condition. Women who had a fistula surgery in the past, the obstetric fistula can be prevented by scheduling a C-section. 

Luckily, obstetric fistula has been eradicated in many countries around the world due to the availability of adequate medical care and emergency surgery facilities. However, in some countries, a high number of fistulas still occur accompanied by the feelings of rejection and isolation of the mother. Generating conversations around C-section can spare many women from childbirth injuries and improve the quality of life for mothers and their babies.

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