A day in the life of a midwife in Tanzania

Source: WaterAid - UK - Thu, 5 May 2016 09:00 AM
Author: WaterAid
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Farida Huseni Ntunduu, 35, has been a midwife in Tanzania for 10 years. She has faced many challenges from a lack of clean water and good sanitation at Kiomboi Hospital where she works. Together with her family and colleagues, Farida took photos to document her average day to mark International Day of the Midwife.

  • I always knew I wanted to be a nurse from the bottom of my heart. I love taking care of people and I like the uniform, especially the cap! My daughter Eva wants to be like me, and become a midwife too. She also likes my uniform! Credit: WaterAid / Anna Kari

  • I work six days a week. On a normal day, I wake up at 6am. We don’t have our own water source as the local authority says we are too far away from the mains, so I pay my neighbours a monthly fee and collect water from their houses.

    I clean the house, drink tea and have breakfast, which is usually rice from the previous evening, or pancake and cassava. I then feed the chickens, wash up and prepare the afternoon meal.

  • Eva leaves for school at 7:30am and I then get a lift to town with my husband, who is a teacher, or get the public bus if I’m on the later shift.

  • Work is busy, but I enjoy it. Today I delivered twins. It was a natural birth and the mother and both babies are doing really well. The mother was called Soverina Songelaheri, which means ‘Thank God’. Everyone was very happy. It was a good day.

  • I love looking after patients. It is so rewarding when women come in needing help, and I am there for them. I want to do the best job I can and deliver mothers’ babies safely so they go home happy and they can have a good life. I feel so good when I see the children I helped deliver around the village and in town. There are many babies I will never forget.

    Night shifts are most difficult, when we only have one midwife in the labour ward, so if there are many women giving birth, it is a problem. That’s when we wear three pairs of gloves, so we can take off one pair to quickly go from one mother to another. Sometimes the generator doesn’t work so there is no electricity in the hospital, making our job event more difficult.

  • Ester Manga is my best friend at work. We all get on very well at the hospital; all the midwives help each other. We need to be there for each other as it’s a difficult job.

    Last month, three babies died here. I feel so bad when a baby dies, I’m also a mother so it’s hard to see. I worry it may be my fault – in case I helped spread infection, or missed something because we lack a lot of equipment.

    We used to have many problems with water as we only had it for an hour a day, which was not enough. It wasn’t hygienic as there was no water to wash our hands properly and as often as we needed to, and we couldn’t always wash our gowns or the sheets, so we weren’t being as safe as we wanted. It is a lot better now WaterAid has helped build clean water and sanitation facilities in our hospital. It will make life easier at work but the difference will really be appreciated by the women and the improvements to their health and hygiene now we can protect them from infection.

  • After returning home from work, I have a bath, then we have dinner - usually rice, beans and vegetables, or rice with fish, depending on what is available at the market.

  • As there is no electricity, we can’t do much in the evenings and I’m often tired from work, so I chat with my husband, brothers-in-law and daughter, then we often go to bed early.

    WaterAid will be at the world’s largest conference on women and girls’ rights, Women Deliver, this month, calling for action to ensure water, sanitation and hygiene are part of improving healthcare and the health of new mums and their newborns. Follow us there on @wateraid and @WaterAidPress, and tweet at us using the hashtag #WomenDeliver.

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