135 maternal deaths + 619 miscarriages = 1 year in Nashik
Girls are married in their teens, receive poor nutrition after conception, and lack the physical strength to carry their babies to full term or bear the rigours of childbirth
While health care facilities in the state's urban areas develops at an exponential rate, crude birthing methods, lack of health care, and the weight of tradition has led to 135 maternal deaths and 619 miscarriages in Nashik, in the past year.
Unhygienic living conditions, the absence of crucial nutrients from their daily diet, early marriage and lack of proper ante-natal care are some of the primary factors leading to such a high mortality rate among expectant mothers.
Hard Labour: These young women work in the fields till an advanced
stage of their pregnancy, which often leads to miscarriage.
Officials claim that most of these women are anaemic, with critically low haemeoglobin counts. Ranjit Kumar, CEO of the Zilla Parishad in Nashik said, "The root of the problem lies in the fact that girls traditionally get married while they are still in their early teens, before they have reached full psychological or physical maturity.
They rarely receive adequate nutrition once they leave their homes. They conceive shortly after marriage, and being young and ill informed, fail to take good care of themselves, as well as the child they have conceived.
They perform rigorous tasks in the outdoors till an advanced stage of their term. This significantly increases chances of miscarriage. Even if they manage to carry the babies to full term, they become very weak, and lack the physical strength to tide them through labour."
In the non-tribal parts of Nashik, 131 maternal deaths were recorded in the past year, the other four occurring in the tribal areas.
While 368 miscarriages were reported in the non-tribal areas, 233 were recorded in the tribal regions.
An official from the District Health Department told MiD DAY, "A relatively few maternal deaths and miscarriages are being reported in the tribal areas, because of the presence of primary health centres and hospitals. The birthing methods practiced at homes in the villages are unsophisticated and dangerous."
In Harsul Taluka in Nashik, MiD DAY met young woman Rasi Ghulam (25) whose slight constitution belied her age. Married at 20, she lost her one-day-old infant last year, and has also suffered a miscarriage before that.
"The infant was very weak at birth, and we couldn't afford a long stay at the hospital. Two months after her death, I conceived again," said Rasi.