International Day Of The Midwife: How Trained Community Extension Workers Can Reduce Maternal Mortality
Mrs. Hannatu Paul, a midwife working at General hospital, Sabon/Tasha, Kaduna, says midwifery is an important role any society must not ignore.
“I am the happiest woman being a midwife,” Throughout her profession as a midwife, she has delivered babies of which include twins, triplet, single babies, she said.
“In a profession such as ours, there are sad experiences. During childbirth, when you lose a child or the mother, or even the both, it is a sad experience for any midwife, as we are expected to carry out a safe delivery.”
There are different challenges that come with midwifery as a profession.
Mrs. Paul says not having enough equipment to perform one’s duty leads to ineffectiveness. In addition, if the environment is not conducive to conduct a safe delivery, it is a challenge. Lack of manpower is also a big challenge, as one midwife in a community cannot do it all.
Giving Birth At Home
On why women would rather give birth at home instead of going to the hospital, Mrs. Paul said, “It is not midwives that conduct home delivery but Traditional Birth Attendants. They aid home delivery and we call them TBA. There are challenges that comes with these home delivery, one is that the TBA do not have the equipment to perform a safe delivery and if there is a complication, they do not know how to sought it out. This in most cases result to the death of either the mother or the baby. After birth these TBA cannot tell of the possible outcome unlike hospitals where if there is a complication, it will be looked into immediately. For instance, when a newly born is short of oxygen, TBA cannot handle that situation but the hospital can.
“Some women prefer giving birth at home is as a result of their economic status. Most of these women cannot afford to buy all that is required of them at the hospital and feel TBA will help them deliver without much expense. But if they can afford everything for the child, they prefer coming to the hospital.”
Government Ban On TBAs/Midwives
“Government cannot ban midwives. If there are no midwives, there is no government. The midwives are the ones that collect delivery for those in government and aid in their own delivery. For without a good midwife, there is no nation at all. We are the deliverers of those who form the nation,” said Mrs. Paul.
In an attempt to provide support to TBAs, she reaches out to these groups and provide proper guide on how to conduct safe delivery for those women who do not want to deliver at the hospital.
“Aside being a midwife, I am engaged in family planning extension where we talk to women about child spacing and its advantages. I am a general nurse and a family planning extension officer. All of which is to help foster healthcare services where needed,”
Reducing Maternal Mortality In Nigeria
According to the UN, nearly 800 women continue to die every day from complications of pregnancy and childbirth, the United Nations spotlighted as it marked the International Day of the Midwife with a call for greater investment to increase the number of midwives and enhance the quality and reach of their services.
Most cases maternal mortality occur in rural areas where there are no competent community health extension workers to conduct a safe delivery.
Mrs Paul believes that midwives can help in reducing maternal mortality rate if government will provide adequate equipment for safe child delivery. In addition, there is need for mother to child education, good anti-natal care, bringing qualified midwives to attend to mothers in rural communities and to educate community health extension workers, especially those working in rural areas on safe delivery.