Gender Gender

Baby swapping shouldn’t be happening

Gender Focus With Emelda Mwitwa
NO ONE wants to wake up to a rude shock of discovering that the child they have raised, loved and pampered 100 percent, isn’t theirs after all.
Raising a child goes with a lot of investments, not only material-wise but emotionally too, or love-wise if you may like.
Loving one’s child and being emotionally attached to it, comes naturally because you know that it is your own flesh and blood.
But the occurrence of baby-swapping at birth leaves irreparable damage that not even DNA testing could cure, more so that sometimes DNA samples have to be sent abroad or out of town to ascertain the real parentage of a child at the centre of controversy.
Normally affected parents – mother or father – will begin to question the accuracy of DNA samples in the process of transportation.
This is why midwives should pay particular attention to how they handle newborn babies to avoid the possibility of separating them from their real parents and sending them to other people who aren’t related to them at all.
Being entangled in a web of mistaken identity because you think the baby you have been given by the midwife isn’t yours, can be quite frustrating to a mother after carrying a pregnancy for nine months.
The baby-swap scourge is worse when one of the babies at the centre of controversy dies and one mother who believes her baby is alive has to bear the brunt of accepting the deceased infant.
I am sure some of you remember the Ndola case where two women bearing the same name of Natasha Mulenga, had their babies accidentally swapped by the midwives at Ndola Teaching Hospital last April.
When the two babies were re-admitted into hospital to await DNA tests, one infant, unfortunately, got sick and died.
On a television clip, I could see that the mother whose baby had died was at pains to accept the bitter reality even when DNA results indicated that the deceased infant was hers.
But this time around I want to draw your attention to the effect of baby swapping on affected babies, especially those rejected by their bemused mothers on account of a gender dispute.
Well, this is in the case where a 22-year-old mother of Chisamba has grudgingly accepted a baby girl after a DNA test established that she was the biological mother.
The young mother, J e t Mwanatuba, had recently rejected this baby girl born on June 26, 2019 at Kabwe Central Hospital, claiming that hers was a baby boy.
I was touched by sentiments of the baby’s mother last week after taking the infant in question home.
“We have accepted the baby on humanitarian grounds… We have come to terms with the situation, although under duress,” said the baby’s mother, or is it presumed mother.
Anyway, the hospital says DNA results indicate that Mwanatuba was the ‘unwanted’ baby’s real mother. Those who followed this story will recall that Mwanatuba was among nine women that gave birth at Kabwe Central Hospital on June 26, when nine babies were born – four male and five female.
After being discharged from hospital, she went back claiming her baby boy had allegedly been swapped with a girl.
She actually left the baby at the hospital, prompting authorities to summon the other eight mothers for DNA tests.
What saddens me is that Mwanatuba has not accepted the baby in question wholeheartedly.
To say that ‘we have accepted the baby on humanitarian grounds’, means the family has not fully accepted the child and if they do not verify the baby’s DNA with another health facility, the child may suffer consequences of rejection by its parents.
It is normal for the unbelieving family to doubt the results of the first DNA if the hospital did not give them a copy of results from the Lancet Laboratory in Lusaka, as they claim.
But rather than sleeping over it, but continue complaining, it’s better for this mother to get a second opinion from another laboratory.
If the sentiments this mother expressed in an interview with the Sunday Mail is anything to go by, the child who has been named Ndiza, loosely translated as maybe, will be on the receiving end of her anger and frustration.
The baby’s father hasn’t accepted the child either, yet it will be raised under his roof and will expect him to shower it with love and care.
But how can this be if the father says, ‘We got the baby because we had to abide by the ruling of the court because we didn’t want contempt’?
If need be, other relatives will do well to pool their resources together and help this couple to do another DNA test, probably in South Africa, where similar tests have been done in the past.
I think it is in the interest of the affected baby that another test is done to clear the doubts on the minds of her parents, otherwise the child will grow up in a hostile environment.
Somehow, one would understand the couple’s anger because hospital records show that the aggrieved mother gave birth to a baby boy.
What it means is that mid-wives, being people who handle babies soon after birth and record vital information of births, need to handle these cases with due diligence.
If records show that the grumbling mother had given birth to a baby boy, this may give her ground on which to complain. Sadly, all this episode will have a negative effect on the child involved.
But somehow I don’t understand why a new mother could get confused about the gender of her newborn because normally, the baby is presented to the mother immediately after it is born.
The mother is actually asked to identify the baby’s gender as soon as it is born.
Unless one is unconscious during delivery due to certain maternity complications, a mother should know the sex of her baby because gender identification of a newborn by its mother is a normal practice in our hospitals.
If Mwanatuba saw her baby upon delivery, then she should know its correct gender, regardless of what midwives recorded on paper.
I hope the baby girl in question is not being rejected because someone wished they had a baby boy.
All in all, this is a nasty experience to everyone involved and it shouldn’t be happening in our health facilities.
Email: emeldashonga@ yahoo.com/eshonga@ daily-mail.co.zm. Phone 0211-221364/227793

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