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  • Writer's pictureSophie Mbongo

Moseten Birth Story

Alto Beni, Bolivia

This is the birth story of a Moseten mother's second child (born in 1979, 38 at time of interview). The mother wished to remain anonymous as well as for the recording of the interview not to be shared. She is of Aymara descent but married a Moseten man and lives in Alto Beni with him. The mother was interviewed by Anne Buechner in Alto Beni on March 9th, 2018. Funding was granted by the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.


Anne: Do you remember the date of his birthday?

Mother: 27

A: The 27th of February?

M: Uh huh.

A: So, it was in 2016?

M: Yes.

A: Two years ago?

M: Yes. Two Years ago.

A: Two years ago. Let's see, where were you? You told me that you'd gone to [town]?

M: Ah yes, the sequence of events... the story they say, right? ... My water is breaking. They told me he will be born soon, so, the emergency doctor and my parents came. And in [town] they checked me. Lack of dilation, they said, you have to get hospitalized, so they hospitalized me.

A: You were hospitalized? M: Yes. From there, I went to get my [tummy] checked, it didn't expand fast. The paaains came, but... continuously. Ahh these, they are [intense]!

A: Well, I believe it! M: And after that... That was on Friday, on Saturday [my dilation and pain] continues, it keeps coming, it contiiinues, my water keeps breaking. A: Mmm. M: It was already three o'clock, the labor continues but, but it was stronger pain.

Strong. It makes you cry. It was already late, [the labor] continues, [it should be done], they say it's not done yet, it's still not done. [They continuously] check you.

Yes. They say not yet.

A: Mmmhmm. Like that, mmm? M: Then, it was already seven o'clock. I can't take it anymore, not a second, and I yelled: Ahh, it hurts! Ahh, he's going to be born! It hurt me. Only then did they take note, they put me in -- where they are born, you know? -- in the [delivery] room. They checked me. Yes, he's going to be born, they said. But... They put me in position, so the baby could come. A: Mmmm. M: But, for the pushing, for the pushing, I couldn't [excel], the baby didn't come out. I pushed, nothing, after that, they told me it was not possible [to have a natural birth]... but... A: You were with nurses, but were there family members with you? Like your husband? M: My husband was there. A: Was he also in the hospital room? M: Yes, he was just there. He was taking care of the baby [her older daughter]. A: Ah. He was in the room with you? Or outside? M: No, just outside. There. A: Ah, but, was he inside or not? M: No. A: He wasn't either. Just nurses? M: Yes. Two nurses and the doctor. A: Like that. M: Yes. A: Yeah. Mmm. M: Ai, that long time of... A: You were already pushing, right? M: They had to, had to... what did he say? They had to make incisions.

What did he say to cut the, what is it called, the, to cut the thing below? A: Because the baby didn't want to come out? M: No, yes, his little big head. A: Mmm. M: It had grown a lot, big. M: Then, I believe they cut me, like so. Now that didn't hurt me too much. The contractions, those hurt a loooot always. Yes, I believe they cut me... I believe they were cleaning me. I think they went in, there... and thus [the doctor] pulled [the baby] cleanly out, they pulled him out. Next the placenta came out of there.

A: Ooo. M: Wait a little while there, wait. The placenta, not too long after it was there.

They were massaging the baby. What was more, the baby didn't cry. Quiet. I said it seemed like he was dead... Ahhh, it can't be... then they massaged him. Oxygen, oxygen they said. They put him on oxygen. They massaged him. "Waaaa," he said. Really deep inside, there he was. A: So only then was he... M: The baby was [hydrated] with lots of water, lots. He was born a little white. A: Mmm. M: Yes. [Chides son] A: And then was the baby immediately here on your chest, or on his own in a cradle, or what? M: After they put him on me, here, on top. A: Mmm, mhmm. M: He was there a while, and afterwards: "we are going to wash him and change him." They took me in a wheelchair way over there to the bed, where I was staying, you know? A: Aaa, where you interned, right? M: Yes, they took me there, and I was a little tormented there... because everything hurt horribly when I got up, it was really annoying. Then, after, they gave me the baby. I didn't have milk either.

A: You didn't have milk. M: Yes, not at all, it didn't come out. The baby was hungry, he cried all night too.

He didn't let me sleep much. Well, two nights, THREE nights I wasn't sleeping. A: Because of that, because still... M: The pain doesn't let you sleep. A: The pain. M: It's awful. A: And was it, was it worse... with her.. [motions to M's daughter] M: Yes. It was more. A: More, because... M: The feeling was more intense. A: Because they cut you like that. M: It was more, all of it, the feeling was more intense. A: Mmm. M: Then, the next day at night we were there. "Let's go." "I discharged you" [said the doctor].

We didn't like the doctor there. A: That was the next day, Sunday, right? M: Yes. A: Hm. M: Then, yes, I will disappear. Then they brought a car, I got in... here, here it was better.

Yes. The baby cried. There wasn't milk. He didn't know how to get it - so you buy something

to get milk from your breasts, yes, it's like a little device. A: Ah, a little device. M: Hm. A: Like this? M: It uses suction. A: Ah, is it like a machine, or just... M: It's like a *tocadorcito.* A: Ahh. M: You put it on like this. Like that, so... A: With your hand, that's how you operate it? M: Yes, that's how it's done, like a little ball. Like a *tocador de bandita, una banda.* A: ¿Hay que apretarlo, no más con la mano? You just need to squeeze it with your hand? M: Just put it on... A: Ahh. M: The little device is... it must cost 90 [bolivianos]. A: But is it a machine, or do you just squeeze it with your hand so that the milk comes out? M: You just need to squeeze, it's manual. Like this, that's how it sucks.

Ai, that's what made [my breasts] swell, that brought in the milk. A: Ahh. M: Yes. A: But it took a while, no? M: Yes! A: It took days... M: So, Friday, Saturday, only Saturday night was he born. A: Mmmhmm. M: It took a lot for that baby. That's how he was. A: But now he's here. M: Yes. ... M: So it was, and by that night, no, "This birth needs to be a cesarean." A: Hm. M: [With] all this [pushing], it is not good to have [a natural birth],

it needs to be an emergency transferred to [the hospital] in Caranavi or La Paz."

But instead we saved the baby, the doctor was saying. A: Yes, because you were just about to leave to do... M: Yes, ai, I was already in pain. I was holding on. A: Well, if it wasn't like that, well, they cut you right, right? So you would have needed to go [if not]. M: Yes, sometimes they die inside, the baby, it is said, and they

drown that way, if they can't come out, right?

A: Hm, and that's why they were already saying that maybe a cesarean would be better. M: Yes, sometimes they come out "special needs." Child: Mami! M: But he's normal. C: Mama. A: He's normal. Yes. ... A: And let's see, what else is missing? Am I forgetting something

or is that everything. Is that how it was?

M: Yes. Just that. I don't know, I came here, to take care of myself. A: How many days were you in the hospital? After you gave birth? Just one day, or more? M: Two days. I was there Friday, Saturday, until Sunday at night... A: Ah, and your birth? You gave birth Saturday night right? M: At night. A: And then... M: At 8. A: At 8 at night. M: Uh huh. A: Then, 24 hours more, then you had left? M: Yes. A: Hm. But you were already getting milk [with the pump]? M: Uh huh. Yes. A: In the hospital? M: Yes, in the hospital. A: Hm. Before leaving? M: Aha. A: Even better. And then everything was fine. M: Yes. That was it.


Thank you so much for reading this birth story!

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