‘Lucky me, I met the midwives before my birth!’

By: Cathrin Jerie and Olga Vieru; International Confederation of Midwives; Communications Team

Claire Wankiju says: “I was very lucky to have so many midwives around me during the 3rd ICM Africa Regional Conference”. She assisted the ICM team in organising the conference that offered a rich scientific program along with many hands-on workshops. Claire was 6 months pregnant during the conference; she said ‘The midwives are very understanding and caring.’ Claire took a special interest in one of the workshops, called ‘Helping Mothers Survive Bleeding After Birth’. This is a workshop ICM has run in several countries in close collaboration with Jhpiego and support from Laerdal Global Health that has developed the training material for the management of postpartum bleeding. The training has been designed to reinforce existing training in basic emergency obstetric and newborn care to help learners acquire the competencies required to effectively prevent deaths from postpartum haemorrhage (PPH), using MamaNatalie, an innovative simulator.

Although Claire wasn’t a participant for the ICM workshop, she had familiarized herself with the content out of interest – it came in very handy a couple of months later. For her second birth Claire had had a Caesarean section, leaving her with a scar that could potentially rupture during the next delivery. Luckily, she did not need a caesarean for the birth of her third child - Matthew, but afterwards Claire was bleeding heavily for a few days. She felt drowsy, and would pass out every time she was breastfeeding. Despite reassurance from doctors and nurses, after having become very familiar with the HMS-BAB workshop Claire suspected that she was having complications after birth, possibly postpartum haemorrhage (bleeding after birth). Claire pressed the doctors to further examine her, and they then realised the scar tissue from the previous birth had indeed ruptured. Claire needed surgery to stop the bleeding. When she woke up, she said ‘I was just happy to be alive. I saw how women bleed to death, and sometimes nothing gets done’.

Claire said that thanks to ICM she knew what postpartum haemorrhage was, and that it needs timely and effective management. ‘If I hadn’t heard about bleeding after birth and that it was a complication (which I heard during the ICM conference), I would have assumed that it was normal’. Even though she needed surgery to survive, Claire was happy that she was alive and her child was well. ‘Lucky me, I met the midwives before my birth. I look at my child, and I’m so happy!’ Claire’s child, Matthew, is healthy and doing very well. This is a great example how the work of ICM and midwives change the world, one family at a time.