Magazine article Geographical

Delivered from Danger

Magazine article Geographical

Delivered from Danger

Article excerpt

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

'Nothing could prepare me for the first time I entered the MSF hospital in Masisi. Walking into the delivery room, I was confronted by several women about to deliver, an emergency case being carried in on a stretcher, and a baby being resuscitated in the corner.

A harassed-looking doctor looked up at me. "When can you start?" he asked. Reaching for a pair of gloves, I answered in my best five-weeks-of-language-school French, "I can start now if you like?" Taking a deep breath, I walked over and got to work.

I've been a midwife for ten years, working mostly in Southampton. I've also worked for MSF in Uganda and Kenya, but Masisi in the eastern Congo was something altogether new. Here, MSF provides virtually the only healthcare in what is, essentially, a war zone. The first couple of months were exhausting and challenging. I don't think I've ever been so stretched, professionally or personally. Working alongside a team of two doctors and 21 nurses and midwives, we dealt with around 300 deliveries a month. At any one time, we had up to 70 women in our 'waiting home' preparing to go into labour and, as we were the main referral hospital for the entire region, we received all of the complicated obstetrical eases and emergencies. It was tough and testing work.

There's one woman who has really stuck with me. She was brought to us in one of our MSF ambulances, we did what we could to save her, but she'd bled significantly after childbirth and by the time she arrived it was too late to save her. I stayed with her and held her hand and stroked her head. She had her eyes open for a while and I just talked to her. Ever so slowly her eyes closed and then I knew that she'd gone. Immediately after, I had to go outside and tell her husband. I'll never forget the look on his face

The disbelief and devastation, the confusion and fear. You could see him agonising, "How on earth am I going to keep this together? How am I going to look after a newborn baby and seven other children at home without my wife?"

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

It made me realise that, without MSF, for the 665 women who had free caesarean sections here in the past few months, there would have been 665 husbands in this man's position, being told their wife had died during childbirth.

Birth is something that touches all of us. Working in so many places, you quickly learn that the physical process of giving birth is the same the world over. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.