242 chapter 11: Labor and birth
Fatuma’s birthing stool
Fatuma Achan lives in Uganda and is paralyzed in both legs from
having had polio as a child. When Fatuma became pregnant, like most
disabled women, she was told by the doctors at the local clinic she
had to give birth by an operation (a Cesarean section, or c-section).
Fatuma was determined not to
have an operation but to go through
normal labor. Other women in her
community sometimes gave birth
by squatting. Because her legs were
paralyzed, Fatuma knew that she
would not be able to hold herself in
the squatting position. But she also
knew her arms were very strong from
pushing her wheelchair all the time.
So she built a birthing stool which
enabled her to stay in the squatting
position. This way her baby could
still be born through the vagina.
wooden birthing stool
Even though Fatuma is
paralyzed, her womb is still strong
and can squeeze itself (contract)
to push out a baby. The position
of her body on the birthing stool
helps the baby drop down gently
out of her body through the vagina,
just as it does for other women who
squat during birth.
A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities 2007