By Fraction James, White Ribbon Alliance - Malawi, Citizen Journalist/Midwife
The working life of a midwife is quite unpredictable. You just never know the kind of complications or the number of deliveries you are going to handle that day. With a shortage of midwives, situations that would be considered ordinary can lead to stress or even death, due to a heavy workload.
The night of October 19th, 2016, is one I will live to remember. I was working on the night shift and the labour ward was not busy. There were only three women who were in labour at that point. A few others were on the latent phase so they were just moving round so that they can facilitate labour. I was working alone, with only some students who were doing their attachments for support. My workmate was sick and the ward in-charge had failed to find someone to come work with me.
The rhythm of the night changed with a phone call that I received at 10 pm. It was about a referral from our big rural health center called Ngabu Rural Hospital. A woman was diagnosed to have prolonged labour with foetal distress. She had spent a long time at the health centre waiting for her labour to progress in vain. She arrived at the facility in Ngabu during a blackout. There was only one solar bulb working.
I informed the doctor on call about the woman. I assessed her and organized all the necessary equipment in preparation for an operation just in case the doctor ordered for it. Unfortunately, the foetal heart rate was becoming fainter. To make matters worse, two other women entered into the room to be assessed because their labour had intensified. I was in a dilemma because I could not tell the students to assess the clients or to attend to the referral case.
Luckily, the doctor on call arrived in time. The operation was arranged and the mother was taken to the operating theater because there was no any other option.
I arranged to go the theater to receive the baby after the operation. However, the baby was delivered with a low Apgar Score and I immediately started resuscitating the baby with an ambu bag and mask (devices that are used in helping a baby to breathe) until the baby picked up.
We put the baby on closer observation with some antibiotics. After the operation, I found the ward full of women in labour, but lucky enough I managed without any complication thereafter.