An obstetric fistula is the most devastating and serious of all childbirth injuries, but something that women with access to mainstream Western hospitals generally have never even heard of. For women unable to access modern obstetric services, it is not uncommon for them to be in labor for six or seven days with a prolonged obstructed birth.
During this time, the contractions continuously push the baby’s head against the woman’s bladder (to the front) and her rectum (to the back). With that soft tissue compressed and receiving inadequate blood-flow, it dies, leaving a hole (fistula) from her vagina to her bladder, or from her vagina to her rectum, or to both. The woman is now permanently incontinent leaking pee or poo or both, and is typically ostracised from her Village as a stinking outcast. For only about US$800 per woman, the Fistula Foundation performs relatively simple corrective surgery, for that woman to finally regain her dignity and confidence.