Sadness

After a week in the classroom teaching theory, today was my first day in the clinical area. On arriving at the large hospital we saw a man holding a small baby wrapped in a kanga matching the one worn by his wife who was walking a few paces behind. It was obvious he was carrying a dead newborn. He was standing tall and carrying the child with dignity and grace. I felt a deep sorrow for this family.

Later this morning I cried with a mother whose baby had died in the night, 2 days after a planned caesarean. Her first baby had been stillborn at term. She looked at me with puffy eyes from all the tears she had shed and said, “I have no baby. I want my baby. I have deep deep pain in my heart.” This while mothers with their new babies were busy in the beds nearby. My heart broke for her. All I could offer was to pray for her and she immediately said, “yes please” and bowed her head.

Another woman was lucky to survive a ruptured uterus. Her baby was also alive, strong and desperate for a good feed of breastmilk. And another was cuddling a tiny baby weighing only 1.9kg but born at 40 weeks. She had severe pre eclampsia which causes growth restriction in babies during pregnancy. Together with the course student, we advised her about how to help this baby survive: 2-3 hourly feeding plus offering extra expressed milk ‘top ups’. Kangaroo mother also to keep the baby warm and assist with his growth and development. Kangaroo mothercare is a way of placing babies skin to skin with the mother, between her breasts. The baby stays in this position to keep warm, help stimulate and regulate breathing and heart rate as well as promote breastfeeding.

It was interesting that during a discussion with a midwife from the pre eclampsia ward, she mentioned that they are now very busy due to an outbreak of PE. For a moment I had to think through that comment because I immediately thought of outbreak in relation to something such as influenza, Ebola, or hepatitis. This, however, she was referring to the increase in numbers of women presenting or being referred to the hospital due to PE. Then there was lots of discussions about what was causing this outbreak: stress, poor diet and nutrition… I then said that perhaps the reason for the increased numbers of PE patients was due to improved quality of care: better understanding of the disease, better detection and referral for treatment and management. She quietly contemplated that theory as she walked away…

I came home feeling I had experienced and learned so much. I hope the course participants feel the same way too…

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