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New mothers sharing beds at Kenyatta Hospital

New mothers are sharing beds with other patients at Kenyatta National Hospital, exposing their newborns to diseases.

Those who refuse to share beds have to go to the hospital every day from their homes.

The mothers share beds in the paediatric wards on third floor, as their newborns sleep in separate rooms, which are also packed to capacity with sick children.

Hospital deputy director for clinical services Simon Monda said the hospital was overwhelmed by the number of new mothers.


“We have to make adjustments to accommodate these mothers because we know the sick babies need skin contact with their mothers and to breastfeed.”

He spoke Wednesday when he hosted the Council of Governors’ Health Committee.

Dr Monda asked counties to improve the capacity of their Level Four hospitals to reduce the pressure on Kenyatta hospital.

At any given time, the hospital is over the limit by about 60 mothers, most of whom have babies in the New Born Unit. The labour ward attends to 180 patients with at least 50 deliveries daily.

In the past, new mothers would be accommodated in a Mother’s Hostel, where they would breastfeed their pre-term babies to gain weight before being discharged.

If they had a sick baby, they would be housed in the hostel as their baby got treatment.

The hostel was turned into the renal and intensive care unit of the paediatrics ward. In a memo dated May 29, 2015 from the hospital’s chief executive, the hospital decried the congestion in the labour wards and new born unit and called for discharge of mothers.


“All well mothers (sic) with babies in new born units will no longer be accommodated in the post-natal wards. Once these mothers have recovered and have been discharged from the wards, they should leave the wards and commute from their homes to free the space for sick mothers,” read the memo.

The memo said the hospital was in the process of creating a holding room where “these mothers can be made more comfortable during the day”.

A mother who did not want to be named said she had been referred to Kenyatta last week with her seven-month-old baby and has to sleep out in the cold as the hospital cannot accommodate her.

She said: “The nurses sent me away. It is very frustrating but they have now moved us to level three, the children’s wards. I would rather sleep there than leave the hospital.”


Other mothers checked themselves into the hospital’s private wing, where every three hours, they have to go and feed their new born ones.

Health workers in the unit are worried about separating mothers from their infants.

The most affected is the Kangaroo mother care, where pre-term infants are cradled from birth, usually by the mother, with skin-to-skin contact.

It has been shown to prevent infections, promote breastfeeding, regulate the baby’s temperature, breathing, and brain activity, and encouraging mother and baby bonding.

Now, this service is being rationed because of the congestion.

Another fear is the risk of stress on the mother blocking milk production. Then there is the challenge of telling the mother their baby died during the time they were apart.

SOURCE: Daily Nation