Massaging pregnant women deadly, says Lamu medic

Doctor says seven out of 20 pregnant women undergo emergency CS each month due to complications

In Summary
  • Traditional birth attendants usually massage pregnant women during delivery
  • They deny doctor's claim, saying they have been properly trained
A pregnant woman
A pregnant woman
Image: FILE

Belly massages for pregnant women are deadly and an absolute no despite being a widespread practice, a doctor has warned.

Traditional birth attendants usually massage pregnant women during delivery. But the practice increases the risk of stillbirths and infant deaths.

Faza subcounty hospital medical superintendent Salim Zubeir said seven out of 20 women who come to deliver at the facility each month undergo emergency caesarian section due to complications arising from belly massage.

At least two out of five babies die from the effects of tummy massage each month, Zubeir told the Star on Wednesday.

He cautioned midwives to desist from massaging pregnant women and instead accompany them to hospital to guarantee safe delivery.

“Many women coming here have already been massaged. It’s deadly. They believe so much in it but they need to know it's killing their babies and stop. The situation has also increased the need for emergency CS. Let them be advised that the hospital can take care of them better,”Zubeir said.

He said a pregnant woman should be left alone and if she has any issue must be rushed to hospital.

Lamu East remains without adequate health facilities after most of them were looted and vandalised by suspected al Shabaab militants.

Many pregnant women in the area resort to traditional birth attendants because they can not reach distant hospitals.

But the spokesperson for traditional midwives in Lamu Shumi Mkunga denied Zubeir's claim that many babies die due to tummy massage.


Mkunga said many of the midwives have been trained by medics in the region and know what to do.

“We believe some babies die out of sheer bad luck and not what we do. We don’t just do things anyhow because we understand a pregnant woman is very fragile. Plus,they trained us to do this. They shouldn’t blame us for anything,” Mkunga said.

Traditional birth attendants have asked for a monthly stipend from the county government of Lamu for their work.

Many of the attendants are renowned for their hands-on expertise when it comes to helping women through pregnancy and during childbirth.