A Difficult Delivery

I saw a woman who came for her first ultrasound of the pregnancy. It also happened to be her due date. It was easy to see that the brain was severely abnormal. It was the size of a small watermelon and really just filled with fluid rather than brain tissue. There was no hope for life for this foetus. That night the patient went into labour with the foetus was in a breech presentation. We try and delivery these vaginally if at all possible to avoid the woman requiring an operation. The delivery was difficult for both myself and her. Once she was fully dilated, I began to drain the foetus’ brain of fluid by sticking a needle through her abdomen straight into the baby’s brain. Unfortunately as the head slowly descended I would have to repeat the procedure. All together, I drained a couple of litres of brain fluid over 30 minutes. The body and legs I delivered about 20 minutes before the head could be delivered due to it’s size. There was nothing easy about it for the woman and I am in awe of the stoicism showed by women delivering in Zambia. After delivery, the use of words was unnecessary- we looked at each other in sheer relief. It had been one of the more harrowing experiences of my life.

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