Voices of Change

Hafsatu: Benefiting from Life-saving Treatment for Pre-eclampsia and Eclampsia

The Population Council coordinated efforts to treat women in Kano State, Nigeria, with severe pre-eclampsia and eclampsia by introducing the use of magnesium sulfate in health facilities. Hafsatu was one of many women who benefited from this life-saving treatment. Her story was featured among other maternal health success stories as part of the Stories of Mothers Saved project of the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood.

I'm 30 years old, and I've had 12 children. Four of my children died when they were about one year old. I accepted their deaths as Allah’s will. I pray to Allah that he will not send me any more children.

I had trouble when my youngest, Hauwa, was born, and I had to come here to the hospital. In the hospital, I miss my other children desperately. Also, I have no privacy here, not even curtains around the bed when giving birth! It is expensive, too, because we can’t cook at home. My sisters have to live on the streets outside the hospital while I am here, and we have to buy food in the city markets. Because of all of these reasons, my first children were all born in my family compound. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law assisted me; that is the usual way of doing things in the village.

I don't remember Hauwa’s birth well—my memories of that day are very hazy. Yet, I do remember terrible abdominal pains and juddering headaches. The pains were so bad I was scared of dying. And while I was in labor, my headaches got worse—first my sight failed and then my body did; my world turned off, and I lost consciousness.

Unbeknownst to me, my husband and relatives brought my unconscious body to the hospital here, an hour’s journey away. The health professionals have said I've been very lucky because my family brought me and I was able to receive treatment early. I was suffering from eclampsia. With magnesium sulfate treatment, which was given upon my arrival, I responded and survived. When I awoke, my baby Hauwa had already arrived. I am so grateful to the hospital and to Allah for her health and mine.