More than a life saved
Life for African Mothers has been increasingly supporting Maternal Health in Liberia. We find our greatest successes for supporting maternal health facilities come when we have great local and reliable links in those places; such as our incredible link Abdul in Monrovia. Sadly Abdul lost his own mother and sister through maternal deaths and his real life passion is to prevent this happening to other women.So here is the tale of Blessing and her journey through maternal health in Monrovia:In Liberia for many different reasons, not all women attend hospital. Although Blessing lives in the capital Monrovia; where she could receive free maternal healthcare at Redemption Hospital, once she went into labour she was unable to get any transport to hospital, and decided to deliver at home. At home she had help from her mother who had assisted with births before. On this occasion it appeared that the birth was successful and uncomplicated, she gave birth to a healthy girl, she seemed to be a good size too.
Two days after delivery Blessing became severely unwell and started to have seizures. On arrival to hospital she was promptly administered a stat dose of Magnesium Sulphate, followed by injections every 4 hours. Blessing had developed eclampsia a completely preventable complication of pregnancy. Thankfully caught in time Blessing was able to receive a course of treatment to manage her potentially fatal condition. Blessing’s blood pressure was very high and the doctors were concerned, especially given that she had been fitting for several hours the day before coming into hospital.
It is thanks to a whole series of links and contacts in Monrovia that we are able to proudly provide Magnesium Sulphate and Misoprostol, we know first hand that these ‘against the odds’ stories really happen and that if we can get the right medication to the needed health facilities mothers lives (Mothers like Blessing) can be saved.
May a young woman experiencing her first pregnancy, presented at the Mbale RR Hospital in the early stages of labour. Under normal circumstances May probably wouldn’t have come to the hospital at Mbale, a long journey from her village. May had been unwell for days though, her hands and feet were swollen and when her headaches got worse she asked her husband to take her to Mbale. When she arrived at the hospital it became immediately clear to the medical staff that May was suffering from pre-eclampsia. In Uganda, it is not uncommon for this to progress to something more severe that could be fatal for both mother and baby.
May’s story has such a positive ending. May arrived at Mbale just days after a shipment of Magnesium Sulphate had arrived at the hospital. Two doses of Magnesium Sulphate were given at a cost of just £1, and will effectively prevent a mother like May from developing eclampsia. Only a small number of women will experience eclampsia in the UK compared to the thousands in Uganda alone. It is the goal of Life for African Mothers to ensure that women in Sub Saharan Africa don’t need to die from the lack of basic medical treatment- birth needs to be safer.
After being given Magnesium Sulphate May’s blood pressure was soon controlled and she was able to have a safe and successful vaginal delivery. Her beautiful healthy baby girl was delivered after a 4 hour labour, and the proud new father was able to take his wife and daughter home two days later.
If you want to help save the life of women like May, you can donate to Life for African Mothers HOW TO DONATE.
This story is just one of many. Knowing that the lives of women like May can be saved so easily is the reason that Life for African Mothers came into existence.
Claire Bertorelli- Midwife
Claire is a midwife at Cardiff & Vale ULHB. She visited Freetown Sierra Leone in March 2012 with Life for African Mothers to support a midwifery workshop. She proved a great success and personally gained a lot from her experience.
Words cannot really express how I felt emotionally or physically about the trip but I will try! The experience itself has taught me so much about myself, and just how different a midwife’s job can be with the different stresses that we face, but are completely on opposite sides of the scale. Going to Sierra Leone totally puts life into perspective and allows you to totally appreciate the NHS for what it is, I have never been so grateful to work for them and realise just how supported and looked after we are.
The workshops evaluated really well and from attending the first trip it was a great experience to be able to cater the teaching for the midwives on the second occasion knowing what I gathered from the first trip. It was also really rewarding to see that some of the midwives had learnt from their peers from the attendees that were on the workshop in November and were improved from the last visit. The attendees from the workshop did not respond well to being taught at, they relished in interactive teaching to which was an idea that we forwarded from the last trip, interactive scenario teaching worked really well allowing the attendees to rationalise their care and prioritise their demands in a practical way.
Visiting the midwives at work really put things into perspective as the gap between knowledge and theory is vast and I don’t feel had we not visited on the both occasions that I have been there would we have seen what really needs to be achieved. In the workshops we were able to see that the midwives have a great knowledge base but that thinking rationally and practically was lacking.
By visiting the hospital at first hand and witnessing deliveries, I believe and this echoed from November and other midwifery colleagues that attended agree that, working along side the midwives would benefit them and us greatly. Maybe even a mentorship role where each midwife can work alongside another and learn from one another to achieve higher standards of care for the women and improved knowledge for the midwives.
Teaching sessions at the end of the shift by reflecting on good and bad real life situations that have occurred in practice, I feel would be of great benefit. The midwives that I have had the privilege to meet with and work with there were amazing in their attitudes to their country, their women, each other and they are very proud to be Sierra Leonean, which is so humbling to see, considering the obstacles that they face on a daily basis. I feel so privileged to have had the experience to be a part of this charity and I know that in doing so my life has changed and I cannot encourage enough, other midwives to do the same.