At Birth, Wide Awake

Balpolam Idi
3 min readJul 31, 2021
Photo by Shelly Shell on Unsplash


Birthing is messy.

It’s sad that we have come to romanticise childbirth and the labour that precedes it. That’s one of the mistakes we’ve made. In a society where women did not necessarily talk about what went in the other rooms, the media was our only teacher.

Birthing is Sacred.

No doubt,

Every culture and people across the world agree with this.

But we need to demystify certain things.

For instance,

That child birth happens swiftly.

That it’s just a few screams and guttural sounds; A couple of protracted minutes with intermittent wails and sobs. Some smeared mascara and one convoluted face

That it is as pretty as Hollywood and Nollywood have made us believe.

Just a few scenes, some minutes and it's all over.

Birthing is a lot of these;

It is blood, lots of blood and sweat

It is urine, faeces and vomit in some cases.

It is excruciating

It is also discomforting, to say the least. While reading this might make you mighty uncomfortable and a bit queasy,

There is one factor we are quick to forget;

Birthing exposes.

Ah! There is no hiding from it.

Your legs wide open;

Everything you have worked so hard to hide and cover all your life, you willingly and eagerly reveal in a few hours. There is a saying in Hausa, “ranan wanka, ba a boye cibi”

There is no preservation of dignity in the birthing room.

Just humanity, vulnerability, pure grit and a fight for life. You do not care how many inches wide you have to stretch to accommodate the baby’s head, or how long a mark the surgeon’s scalpel will leave in it’s wake. You are not concerned about how wounded your nether regions might get or how this procedure will require a cutting of several layers including your uterus.

Nothing cute happens until the baby is born and cleaned up. The first sigh of relief comes when the cry of the baby is heard. Even after that, the placenta must follow. This is called the third stage of labour.

You are at birth Nigeria.

Do you know?

Have your midwives prepared for the long night of pain and travail?

Are they kitted up? Are they alert and keeping watch or have they fallen asleep?

Are they bored by your seemingly slow dilation; the crawling progression of labour?

Do they even know what you are about to birth?

Listen woman,

In this room, Nigeria,

All that has been hidden and kept under wraps will be revealed.

Shame has gone out the window and with it humiliation.

All that is left in you is a fight. A fight for your life and the life you are birthing.

Let the attendants and midwives clean you up. Just stay alive and bring that offspring of yours to us safely.

Photo by Aditya Romansa on Unsplash

You are at birth Nigeria.

Do you know?

Have your midwives prepared for the long night of spasms and accouchement?

Are they ready? Are they set and waiting on you or have they been kept under by torpor and the apathy of watching you labour for long hours?

Are they bored by your seemingly spaced contractions; the inactive nature of your parturition?

Do you even know what you are about to birth?

Do you Nigeria?

I hope you are still willing to fight. I hope your midwives are alive and vibrant. Ki sauka lafiya. I wish you Safe delivery my good woman.

Love, Ballie💖



Balpolam Idi

Live, Love, Give. But most importantly, Dream. Learner. Teacher. Wanderer.