As cyclone Yaas raged, pregnant woman in Odisha carried on charpoy to hospital
As cyclone Yaas lashed Odisha coast with a wind speed of 130-140 km per hour on Wednesday morning, a 25-year-old pregnant woman of Balasore district had to be carried on a charpoy to a hospital by her family members, officials said.
Sonali Nath, 25, was at her parent’s house in Balabhadrapur village of Soro block of Balasore district for her childbirth scheduled on June 17. Little did she anticipate that she would go into labour moments before the cyclone hit the Balasore coast with all its ferocity.
Minutes after cyclone Yaas touched down on the coast near Bahanaga, less than 10 km from her village, Sonali went into labour and delivered a baby boy, her first child. But instead of breaking into celebration, her 68-year-old father Sambhu, became worried as the placenta did not drop from the womb.
The troubles were about to begin for the family.
“My daughter was howling in pain and I could do nothing. So we kept on calling an ambulance to carry her to the nearest public health centre (PHC) at Anantpur, but no ambulance came. Feeling helpless, we went to the local ASHA worker but she also refused to help as her name was registered with the ASHA of her in-law’s place. As it was getting critical, I went to the local PHC for help. When I asked for some medicines, I was told that if anything happened the PHC people would not be responsible,” said Sambhu, a Nath yogi.
Finding no other way, Sambhu then decided to put her daughter and her newborn on a charpoy and carry them on shoulders after wrapping in a plastic sheet. “it was raining hard and the wind made it very difficult even to go out but we had no other option,” said Sambhu.
But the walk from Balabhadrapur to the PHC was anything but easy. The 3 km stretch from Balabhadrapur and the nearest concrete road at Chakapada has been mud slicked for years. What made things worse was breaches on road by locals to drain out floodwaters from the village.
“While praying to Lord Jagannath, my family and I tiptoed through the muddy roads that had already become slippery due to heavy rain. On normal days, it is difficult to walk on that road, forget walking with a pregnant woman. A wrong foot in that muddy road could have resulted in a disaster. After walking for about 10 km to the pucca road, we saw an autorickshaw. I begged him to take us to the community health centre at Soro, another 2 km away,” he said.
Villagers said the Balabhadrapur-Chakapada road is yet to be made concrete despite several requests to the local administration. “The road has been like that from the days of my grandfather. No ambulance can come to our village because of the kutcha road,” said Lipshita Panda, a resident of Balabhadrapur.
After reaching the Community Health Centre (CHC) at Soro, the doctor there helped in getting the placenta out and severed the umbilical cord. The baby and the mother came back home on Thursday and are doing well.
Odisha health department officials said more than 750 babies were born in the state before and during the landfall of cyclone Yaas on Wednesday. Several of these children were born on Tuesday night when the cyclonic storm was approaching the country’s eastern coast, while others saw the light of the world around the time when ‘Yaas’ made its landfall near Bahanaga, 50 km south of Balasore district.
Many of the kids were named Yaas by their parents after the cyclone.
The state government had earlier said that as many as 4,555 pregnant women had been evacuated to various hospitals ahead of the cyclone.
In the worst-affected Balasore district, 165 births - 79 male and 86 females - were registered in different health institutions amid the cyclone while 60 children were born in Bhadrak district. Mayurbhanj, which also experienced high-speed wind and extremely heavy rainfall, recorded 66 births.