Monday, March 16, 2009

Catching Babies

It has been a busy, hot, tiring couple of days.

Yesterday I almost caught a baby (see previous post). I had my hands on the baby head as it was emerging and then moved out of the way when the midwife on duty came in. Today I managed a birth beginning to end, though I opted to observe rather than do the repair of the tear that the woman sustained. This is a picture of me with my mama from today...her name was Luisa. This was her 2nd baby. Her first one was a boy born in 2007 who died at 10 months of age from possible gastroenteritis. Today she gave birth to a cute little girl.

I wonder what these women coming in and having their babies with us around think of us. They seem so unperturbed by everything, including the white chicks in the scrubs present at their births, sometimes intimately involved in their births. It is certainly worlds apart from our cares and concerns back in America. Back home we see people "shopping around" for care providers, choosing smaller practices so they really get to know their provider, having long prenatal appointments with their midwife. Here, prenatal visits are 5 minutes long, women probably seldom learn the name of the midwife who caught their baby...and midwives mop the floor after the birth.

I knew there would be many challenges to being here and being a part of the care of these laboring and birthing and postpartum women that is so very different from what I know. I am not surprised by this, and try to observe it and let it go. I can't change it. There is nothing I can do to convince people to stop bathing the newborns constantly, stop slathering them in commercial lotions and dusting them in talc, nothing I can do about the ugly conditions of the maternity ward itself. But I can let in the goodness that is here: the incredibly strong newborns that take to the breast of their worn out mamas with the gusto and expertise of a 2 month old, the midwife who would share her breadfruit dish and taro cake with us. And I suppose I can do my part to tell a woman she's being strong, to look in the eyes of a new little one and wish it strength and health, in the weeks I have here before returning to my incredibly privileged life back home.

A few more pictures posted:


  1. Im really enjoying reading about what you're doing in Vanuatu! Im a student midwife in New Zealand and would be interested in doing something similar. How did you come to do it? Can't wait to read more...
    Katrina :)

  2. Tina, this post reminds me of the many times I told a baby that it really is loved and welcomed here, despite the fact that it may not have been the gender the parents were hoping for. Sometimes it might be the only time that baby hears those words, while you're bathing it and powdering it with love. Keep up the good work!

  3. You're probably doing this already...
    "Nam blong mi Tina" and they know who their midwife is. :)
    You're so awesome.
    Xx L