Features

‘On paper’ and ‘having papers’: migrants navigating medical xenophobia and obstetric rights in South Africa

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Chekero met Pauline at a local pharmacy in Giyani, a small town in the north-east of the Limpopo Province of South Africa. The area is best known to foreigners as being close to the famous Kruger National Park, a tourist hotspot famous for ‘the Big Five’ game to which it is home. It is also an important receiving town for

Features

‘A bit of a compromise’: Coming to terms with an emergency caesarean section

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During the midwife-hosted antenatal class Cath attended in a private hospital in Cape Town, South Africa, where she would eventually give birth, pregnant women were encouraged to name the kind of birth they wanted. They were presented with three options: “natural all the way with no medication”, “natural but open to medication”, or “elective caesarean”. The ‘choice’ women were expected …

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Infant Topography: Baby Body Mapping in Maphisa, Zimbabwe

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baby-body-map

Nomsa, her sixteen month old son Nathi and I met early one morning at the entrance to the open cast mine in Mafuyana, Southern Matabeleland, Zimbabwe. Nathi safely secured on her back, a shovel in one hand and a plastic bag with bread and water in the other, Nomsa hurried me along: “We must walk quickly, the earlier I start …

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Everyday violence, mobility and access to antenatal care

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I met Libby on a cold winter morning at the clinic. She was a short woman with a strong voice and slow walk. Libby was 35 years old and taken by surprise at being pregnant again. She had one child, a son who was already 17 and whose presence filled the two hour conversation as Libby returned to stories of …

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1000 Risks and Birth-and-Death in Cape Town

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“I was willing to die,” Terri told me, “I just didn’t want to have another caesarian.” She referred to her vaginal birth after three c-sections (a VBA3C), which took place at home, since no Cape Town hospital would allow her what is termed a trial of labour – an attempt at vaginal birth – for fear of uterine rupture. It …

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Critical interventions in birth in the first 1000 days

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Choice and the assigning of value in the practices and crafting of life-giving work

In healthy birthing initiatives described by, among others, the World Health Organization, emphasis has been placed on the importance of ‘the golden trio’: vaginal birth, breastfeeding and immediate skin to skin contact after birth. These three experiences are said to seed a baby’s immune system with …