Today we celebrate the International Day of the Midwife, thinking of midwives across the globe. In the UK we are all aware of a shortage of midwives and how busy maternity units are. As the general election approaches we are eager to know how the parties will respond to this challenge. However it is nothing compared to the challenges that pregnant women face in rural Kenya: those of poverty and long distances to hospitals and local health services.
Our clinic in Buburi has a catchment area of 10,000 people and a high birth rate. We are so pleased that our sponsors have helped us raised enough money for the salary for a new midwife so that women can birth their to babies at night at the clinic, and we look forward to this service starting soon. Because we know how important midwifery care is for all expectant women we now have 4 qualified staff to give antenatal care, deliver the babies and offer support to new mums. But that’s not all midwives deliver! They also provide sexual and reproductive health care and promote good health for the family that the baby is born into.
Our midwives, Edward, Rachel and Brigid and our Clinical Officer, Rashid are members of the community so they are familiar with community issues, the culture and challenges that the families face. If a mother in a poor rural setting dies in childbirth – and 830 die each day across the world – her baby has almost no chance of surviving. The family grieves this loss of a loved one, as well as the loss of the mother to other children, and a potential income. The whole community is affected.
99% of these deaths are preventable with adequate midwifery and obstetric care.
In Buburi the midwives are proud to give the women appropriate information on pregnancy, undertake screening tests locally for some diseases that would affect their pregnancy, check for high blood pressure and the baby’s growth, plan the place of birth with the woman, and ensure a safe delivery.
This year the International Day of the Midwife is celebrating the partnership between midwives, mothers and families – a partnership for life! Essential worldwide – but most especially amongst the poor. Thank you so much for flying the banner for midwives!