By Wilson Kamukono
A mother of seven has given birth to triplets in Sembabule district who are preterm but is unable to give them adequate care.
The woman Beatrice Nassiwa (34) of Kikoma village, Mabino parish, Mijwala sub -county in Ssembabule gave birth to the two boys and one girl on Friday.
The first baby boy weighed 1.5kg, the second, 1.6kg, while the girl weighed 1.3kg.
She gave birth to the babies at Masaka regional referral hospital.
The neonatal unit in-charge Gladys Bingi says that Nassiwa arrived at the hospital ward around 10pm on Friday and moments later delivered through caesarean section.
“Both the mother and the children were delivered safely and are in good condition. But the babies are preterm and are under warmers, we have started feeding them on formula milk because the mother does not have breast milk now ,” Bingi said in an interview on Saturday evening.
However, Nassiwa is unsure how she will be able to fend for the children as she is a peasant and earns a living from subsistence farming alongside her husband.
The couple had seven children before the triplets and their birth brings the number to ten children under their care.
Nassiwa says she did not expect to give birth to triplets. She says, however, she was aware this was an unusual pregnancy because unlike before she was unable to walk a distance of one kilometre at six months.
She remembers that, “By six months, I could hardly move and do work compared to my previous pregnancies where I could do my house chores with ease until delivering.”The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines prematurity as babies born before 37 weeks from the first day of the last menstrual period. Experts say a normal baby should spend 40 weeks in the womb.
Masaka hospital’s Bingi says that the babies will be kept in the warmers for 21 days until they are slightly stable with the ability to take milk.
Bingi adds that, “After that period of 21 days ,we shall discharge them and give them back to the mother to create space for more babies to access the warmers.”
The increasing number of babies born so soon (premature) is worrying medics at hospital.
On average, 60 premature babies are born at the regional health facility and admitted at neonatal intensive unit monthly ,according to Bingi
The unit was designed to admit only eight premature babies at a time.
At the neonatal unit four or more premature babies are congested in a warmer or incubator which is supposed to accommodate only one baby.
According to Dr Gonzaga Ssenyondo, a senior gynecologist at Masaka Regional Hospital, in Uganda a birth can be determined to be premature at 28 weeks and from this stage, the baby has many chances of surviving unlike in developed countries where the period lowers to 22 weeks.
Uganda is ranked among countries with a high number of premature babies, ranked at 13th position out of the 184 countries , which strains the country’s health budget.
Available statistics indicate that out of the 1.5 million children born in Uganda every year, 210,000 are born too soon, before 37 weeks of pregnancy.