Monday, March 2, 2009

Birth in Ghana

Babies, babies, babies, everywhere you look in Sekondi women are either expecting or have just had a baby. They walk around in the heat looking absolutely fabulous in traditional Ghanaian dresses with elaborate patterns on them; their hair is always done and with a baby wrapped in cloth carried on their back.

I spent Wednesday morning with Ruth in the public health unit of the ENRH. Wednesday mornings the unit holds a combined educational session and health clinic for new moms. The nurse begins the class as soon as every seat is filled but women keep pouring in long after. There must have been at least 50 women with babies in the clinic that day.

I was speaking to nursing students when the class began with a beautiful song. The sight and sound was awe inspiring—all these beautiful women with their babies in their arms singing. I asked the student what they were singing and she said a song to praise God. After the song they said a prayer together and got the lecture started.

I didn’t understand the lecture because it was in a local dialect but I did understand the nurse when she said “family planning.” The lecture was on the importance of family planning and how to do family planning. One woman participating said that she had a family member who came into the clinic for contraception and died shortly after beginning it. The nurse answered that contraception does not cause death; it is a common misconception. She explained that some women come into the clinic with a previous illness that causes their death. It is just an unfortunate coincidence that they die after getting contraceptives.

Later I went over to the labor and delivery ward to check out what Lara and Jennifer where doing. I expected to see more women in labor but there was only one. It is amazing how quiet these women are during their contractions. The young woman in labor was becoming a first time mom and would snap and moan lightly when she had a contraction. While I was there Lara and Jennifer spoke to the midwives about how they use the partograph, a chart used to track a woman’s labor—if used properly it can signal possible problems the woman maybe having in labor. I wanted to see the birth of a baby since I had never seen one so I stuck around. Sticking around allowed me to see the Ghanaian midwives process and also ask Lara and Jen how their process is different. In Ghana it is believed that any other position besides lying on the left side is thought to do harm to the baby so women are told to lay only on their left and another common practice to speed things along is to break the woman’s membrane and then give oxytocin which apparently makes the uterus open and judging by the louder moans by the young lady increases the intensity of the contractions. Within an hour of giving her the oxytocin the baby girl had arrived. She was 5lbs 7 ounces and cried until she was bundled up.

I am sure I have said this before in the blog but it is really inspiring to see how family members care for their relatives in this country. Family members are usually around 24 hours a day, bringing food to their relatives in the hospital and paying and picking up their prescriptions (you have to buy and bring your own required meds to the hospital, the doc will write you the prescription and your relatives walk to the pharmacy to get them; you also have to bring your own food). The same goes for the physical therapy unit where relatives spend hours shuttling their family members back and forth to the clinic and then working with them while there.
There are no visiting hours you just come, offer support and help.

No comments:

Post a Comment