Midwives are important, all over the world. But in Uganda, where a staggering 16 girls and women die every day of complications due to childbirth, midwives work on the frontline of maternal mortality. This video (prepared by Save the Mothers staff in Uganda) and blog post by Program Intern Jessica Huston, hail the critical role of midwives, and highlight some of the unsung heroes in the battle to save mothers and babies.
Save the Mothers’ model of innovation and change uses a multidisciplinary approach; recognizing that everyone, in every sector, at any level, has a role to play in maternal health. Throughout our programs, such as the Mother Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (MBFHI), we implement this same model: motivating and empowering individuals, communities and teams to take on their own roles within Safe Motherhood.
One team that we often interact with, and truly rely on within the health facilities, are midwives. Midwives know their role in maternal health: they are the professionals, the skilled healthcare workers that care for the variety of complications that arise in pregnancy and childbirth. They witness and work with the barriers and complexities from other systems that have often failed mothers by the time they reach a facility. A labouring mother comes in late, having not attended antenatal (prenatal) appointments, is unaware of family planning options or is perhaps still a child herself—these dangers exist for the mothers before they even step into a health facility, where midwives are waiting to care for them.
Caring for mothers along the way is incredibly important; there should be less of a burden on midwives—too many complications are brought to them too late. However, throughout their careers midwives are faced with these trials and the responsibility of overcoming obstacles. In much of the world midwives experience a large part of the blame and burden in maternal mortality. And they want to do something about it.
We wanted to make a video showcasing midwives, to put a face to the names that so many mothers rely on, and to share the inspirations and struggles behind their stories. These women are so dedicated to their work and to the mothers they meet, but they are overworked, overburdened, and underpaid. Yet when asked what would motivate them to continue their work, many doctors, midwives and nurses say “refresher courses,” or “further education in a specific training.” They recognize that they do not have everything they need to save all the lives they can. While at times this situation is supply and resource driven, these professionals are experts at using what they have. They have the desire to learn and better their own practices. And with the expanding network of Master of Public Health Leadership students and Save the Mothers supporters, we have experts—some of the best in the world—to train and mentor them.
The Mother Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative works to link these professionals, encouraging and supporting knowledge sharing and skills. We hope to continue expanding this clinical mentorship programing to generate confidence, and to empower healthcare systems and healthcare workers in the jobs that they do. These projects are accessible, interactive, and most importantly, they’re working.