Thursday, June 23, 2011

Why become a mother in Nepal?

A couple of months ago I met this woman, she had just returned to Nepal, from the USA, to have a baby. This was a well educated, NGO running, intelligent and interesting lady. She had the choice to deliver in the USA but she chose to come home. I was shocked that she wanted to give birth in Nepal, I think I might have even been rude enough to say she was crazy but I honestly couldn't think of anything more scary at the time. 

Ever since then I have been interested in anything to do with pregnancy in Nepal. Now that Mero Budda and I know we won't be coming to Australia for a while (No, we didn't get the visa) the topic has taken on a personal slant. If we want to have kids soon it is going to be in Nepal. I have tried to read up on it. I googled every combination of Nepal and birth related topics i could come up with but found a disappointingly low yield of results. 

Most of the things i did find scare me. Its all very alarmist and disturbing. Did you know a young mother dies every four hours in Nepal and a baby every 20 mins? Well thanks to DFID UK I do and it is a statistic that keeps me up at night. How do women happily enter into marriage and motherhood knowing  it could kill them? Nepali women are so much braver than I am, I can admit that without any shame at all. 

The stats have gotten better, mother mortality rates in Nepal have been halved in the last 10 years (UNICEF 2010). It is still a horrifyingly high amount of mothers who die during childbirth, and the maternal mortality ratio for lifetime risk of maternal death was 1 in 80 in 2008 (UNICEF). 

So now I am looking for information. I want to talk to people who actually have some experience with birth in Nepal. Maybe some of their courage will rub off on me. I can't read anything else about death and disease, I need to know there is a happy side too. Although if there isn't a happy side, i guess i want to know that too.  

*Oh and the movie. The part where the women describe how her sons died broke my heart. 


  1. Wow. What an inspiring video, but alarming statistic. It's incredible and heart-breaking to know something so natural is the cause of such a horrifyingly high amount of deaths.

  2. I saw another video, White Girl In A Saari sent it to me, and i had seen it posted on someone else's blog but now i can't remember who's. The WITNESS doco? It was truly alarming. When the mother hears it is a girl the disappointment visibly oozes out of her and infects everyone in the room. The baby is just left on the floor for a while till someone picks it up.


    this video? the baby is lying there for so long! How heart breaking :(

  4. Hi Amanda thanks for the video, it was really informative.
    I also like your photo...kind of answers the title question doesn't it, babies bring so much joy in Nepal (though maybe I should qualify that with "male" babies?)

  5. i think that UN/INGO stats and videos don't speak for the country. for one, data from private hospitals in kathmandu completely skew the data. being born in nepal is all it takes to know that if you are in kathmandu you are a-okay, if you are in, say, jharlang or musikot, you leave it to God. suffice to say YOU'lll be fine.

    just look at the 27 million of us nepalis - we all came out okay ; )

  6. Yeah I know the stats are fucked. That's why i wanted to talk to some people but now i am even more concerned. All the women i spoke to (in Pokhara) received NO MEDICAL CARE until they went to the hospital to have their baby, and they only went to get the 1000NR bonus.

    I probably will be fine cos i know what to ask i know about vitamins and ultrasounds. I just think more people could be fine if there was some kind of education and a bit more value placed on women's lives.