Women who are expecting twins are normally referred to district or regional hospital as a matter of safety precaution, but Nonjabulo Buthelezi delivered her twins at Pomeroy Community Health Centre in KwaZulu-Natal when she went into emergency labour.
Due to concerns about the growth of the twins that she was carrying, Buthelezi had been booked to deliver as a high-risk patient at Grey’s Hospital.
However, she started experiencing mild cramps five days earlier than her due date, while she was at her home in Pomeroy which is 144 kilometres from Pietermaritzburg where Grey’s Hospital is located.
Buthelezi did not think much of it until in the evening when she saw signs that she was going into labour. She was rushed to Pomeroy Community Health Centre (CHC).
The medical staff at the clinic came to her rescue upon arrival. The Cuba-trained Dr Sanele Madela, who is the Chief Executive Officer of Pomeroy CHC, was on call when he was informed that Buthelezi had been admitted at the facility, fully dilated, and needed to deliver her twins.
“We had no choice but to deliver her immediately. If a person is expecting twins, we prefer them to give birth in a hospital that has a theatre, because if there are complications during the labour and delivery process, you can rush into theatre and save hers and the baby’s life,” he said.
District and regional hospitals are best choices because they normally have better resources, such as medical theatres, more skilled staff and emergency blood stocks.
Madela said when a woman is expecting twins it means that her cervix will be bigger, and after giving birth, it may not return to its normal size early enough, which makes her more susceptible to bleeding after delivering.
“Bleeding is one of the main factors that lead to mothers dying after birth,” he said.
Describing the precautionary measures that were taken during the delivery of the twins, Madela said everything was prepared and ensured that the staff was proactive.
“We anticipated everything. We did not want to start looking for things that we knew we would need when things get out of hand. We made sure the necessary drugs are in place so that once the second baby is out and we have removed the placenta, we administer them. We did not want to wait for the mother to bleed. We prevented it from the word go,” he said.
The 23-year-old Buthelezi named her babies Siyabonga and Zenande, a boy and a girl, weighing 1350g and 1950g respectively.
Buthelezi, who is also a mother of a four year-old child, said the doctor and medical staff at Pomeroy must continue to help other patients the way they helped her.
“Even though I was scared, they were able to put me at ease and help me. I even asked them why I was told I needed to go to Grey’s Hospital when they were so well-equipped to help me,” she said.
She was immediately transferred to Church of Scotland Hospital in a specialised obstetrics ambulance, where one of the babies, Siyabonga, was put in a nursery because of his low birth weight.
KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, has congratulated the medical team at Pomeroy CHC and also urged expectant mothers generally not to travel too far away from health facilities when they are due to deliver.
“We are proud of Dr Madela and his team. It takes nothing less than expertise, passion and dedication of all concerned to ensure that such a risky operation goes off smoothly. Although it is difficult to predict accurately when Mother Nature will take its course, we urge expectant mothers to make use of the mothers’ lodges which are available at some of our hospitals when they are close to their date of delivery,” he said.
“In cases of hospitals that do not have mothers’ lodges yet, we urge mothers not to travel too far from home, so that if they go into labour, they can be transported easily to the nearest health facility,” the MEC added.