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The Thrills And Pains Of A Midwife 

By Yvette Bom Chia & Shedaline Motoko*

“Midwifery is one of the most challenging professions in the world. Working as one brings about joy as well as sadness. You feel happy when you deliver a baby; you are happy to see the smile on the mother’s face. On the other hand, you feel bad to announce the death of a child or the death of a mother after delivery. It is also a difficult job as some babies die before, during or after delivery”.

Ntonefor, Senior Midwife

These are the words that summarise the thrills and pains of working in the department of the hospital that sees the birth of new life on a daily basis. Mrs Margaret Ntonifor, a senior midwife at the Buea General Hospital Annex, has been engaged in midwifery for a better part of her life. Yet, when you meet her at her duty post, she exudes freshness and enthusiasm as if she started the job yesterday.

Working for this length of time, Mrs. Ntonifor admits that it is difficult to state how many babies she has delivered. The Post learnt that midwifery entails good training and there are two categories of midwives: Grade One and Senior midwives.

To be qualified as a Grade One midwife, one has to undergo two years of training. Meanwhile, one undergoes a training of three years of nursing and two years of midwifery to be qualified as a senior midwife. Midwifery, however, is not a gender selective profession as a man can as well be a midwife. Considering the ratio of midwives to the population of women giving birth, the challenge of those working in a hospital like the Buea Regional Hospital Annex is enormous.

“About three to six babies are born daily at the Buea Regional Hospital. Some women give birth through normal delivery process (going through labour pains and push out the baby) while others give birth through caesarean session. In most cases, this happens when some women lose their babies about two to three times during labour.

In such cases they are advised to give birth through caesarean session in order to have save delivery,” she says. According to her, some women who are forced to deliver through caesarean session suffer from cardiac problems, hypertension and diabetes, while others have small passages which prevent the baby from coming out.

One of the things that sadden midwives is the death of either babies or their mothers. Mrs. Ntonifor explains that diseases such as malaria affect many women during pregnancy, leading to anaemia, which in turn can lead to the child’s death. Also, blood incompatibility from both parents can cause the child’s death. “Some babies are abnormal, and it might be God’s will that the baby dies before time to prevent suffering from the parents,” she says.

She advises pregnant women to always go for antenatal check ups immediately they find out that they are pregnant. Also, she insisted that pregnant women should also endeavour to know their HIV status so as to save the baby. “If a pregnant woman sticks to the advice given by mid-wives she will have a safe delivery,” she advised. Besides, she maintained that breast feeding is very important for the baby.

Challenges

Midwives face a lot of difficulties and challenges in handling this very delicate process of child birth. According to the senior midwife, many women do not know the history of their pregnancy and it poses problems handling their cases.  “Some pregnant women do not come for ante natal care. Others are abandoned in the hospital after delivery, with no body to pay their bills. After delivery, some women do not have food to eat,” Mrs. Ntonifor said.

She also identified lack of up-to-date equipments as another challenge. She said they lack incubators, especially for premature babies, and forceps etc. She added that they lack equipment such as monitors for women in labour which makes work difficult for them. However, she said, in cases of complications during delivery, they seek the doctor’s help.

Talking on the notion the public have that midwives may sometimes give the wrong babies to different mothers, Mrs. Ntonifor said this has never occurred since she has been working in the hospital. “The babies are always placed by their mothers after delivery and the mothers too recognise their babies by the clothes they put on. We always make sure the mothers see their babies,” she assured.

*(UB Journalism Students On Internship)
 

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