Monrovia - Midwifery, also known as obstetrics, is a health science and health profession that deals with pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period (including care of the newborn), besides sexual and reproductive health of women throughout their lives.
Midwives around the world work hard every day to ensure mothers and their families receive the quality care that they deserve. In Liberia, the profession is an essential one as the Liberia Midwife Association is ensuring pregnant women received safe delivery by trained midwives.
On Friday, May 5, 2017, Liberian Midwives join the rest of the world in celebrating International Day of the Midwife, a day set aside by the International Confederation of Midwives.
Since it was launched 14 years ago, 5 May has been the internationally recognized day for highlighting the work of midwives.
This year’: celebration focuses on the theme: Midwives, Mothers and Families: Partners for Life! Midwives in Liberia have decided to render services at selected health facilities in Grand Bassa, a county close to the Capital Monrovia while at the same time holding a training session was outlined as part of activities in celebrating International Midwives Day.
The Liberia Midwife Association is supported by the United Nations Population Fund and has decided hold the 2017 celebration in Grand Bassa County.
An interview with the President of the Liberia Midwives Association concluded that most women should be offered midwifery-led continuity models of care and women should be encouraged to ask for this option although caution should be exercised in applying this advice to women with substantial medical or obstetric complications.
Although normal birth is ideal, Wilhelmina Flomo believes midwives are trained to capably handle various emergencies and work collaboratively with their medical partners who have earned their respect.
“Midwives are not supposed to drive away their client because your interactions with her would either protect her life or drives her away,” Wilhelmina Flomo told FPA.
She told a FPA interview during the week, that the need to provide opportunities in raising awareness about normal healthy birth and the midwifery model of care are highly essential, which is what the 2017 World Midwives Day speaks about.
In the wake of the celebration, Madam Flomo has registered the importance of the midwives to Liberia.
Midwives work is not limited to hospitals but also rewarding to out-of-hospital births, something she cited is common to the West African nation.
With 1598 active midwives recorded in Liberia, she said homebirths attended by midwives are still prominent in rural Liberia, whereas most midwives in the urban setting of Liberia attend birth in hospitals.
“We have 1104 active certified midwives in Liberia with 438 registered midwives and 56 nurse midwives,” Madam Flomo intoned.
Despite the number, she noted that the group is also keen on public awareness campaigns on the importance of going to hospital for safe delivery which is one of its focus points in observance of International Midwives Day.
This according to her is because Liberia falls among countries with high maternal mortality rate which brings midwives to the forefront in reducing the statistics.
According to Liberia Demographic Survey report, the current rate of maternal mortality stands at 725.
“The Number of midwives in Liberia is far less to combat maternal mortality rate and for us in Liberia, many people don’t actually know who a midwife is and their role.
The role of midwife is far beyond just delivering pregnant women and forgetting about them because it starts from the reproductive age to the time of not being able to give birth,” the Liberia Midwife Association President said.
The Liberia Midwife Association President agreed that Midwifery is an excellent opportunity to showcase the work of saving lives in Liberia and reducing mortality rate.
She further revealed that the association is partnering with government and other health organizations to enforce regulation already docketed for the practice of midwives in hard-to-reach hinterland areas.
Madam Flomo stated: “The time is now for women everywhere to understand how midwives partner with women to improve their health throughout their lives.
The celebration brings midwives together and makes them to know that they are part of a team as well as their contribution in saving lives.”
The day according to the Liberia Midwives Association would further feature an educational session on the use of drugs among pregnant women which is a noticeable challenge for most midwives in Liberia.
Zinnah Manobah is a midwife assigned the Arthington Clinic but is doing her clinical at the Stars of the Sea Health Center in the Liberian Slum Community of West Point.
She said being a midwife in Liberia is seriously challenging especially in the hinterlands and populated community like West Point located in Monrovia where bad road network and limited facilities pose a challenge for midwifery.
Madam Manobah said some of the challenges posed by the profession are difficult, for example dealing with the high temperament of women during their pregnancy, stressing that the job calls for a passion to save lives.
“Most of the time, patients aggravate us. Most often, they walk to you and they are in labor, they beat on you, abuse you and we don’t take it to be anything because in that time they are not normal.”
“Actually I chose this profession because I love saving lives, especially being with children and I like to be call upon whenever people are in need,” Madam Manobah said.
Madam Monabah decision to join the field in 2009 stemmed from an out of hospital pregnancy observed within her community of West Point when a pregnant woman gives birth along the wayside.
“One day I was passing by and met this lady who was in labor and wanting to go to the hospital but did not go, only to give birth right at the wayside and I was the only one there trying to help her. From that time I grew love for the profession,” the Liberian Midwife explained.
She further described as saddening that the bulk of the work in hospitals carried out by midwives, when they are hardly acknowledged for the professionals they are, something she said is not creating encouragement for the profession.
She said the number of midwives assigned to hospitals are not satisfactory and wants this year’s celebration to serve as a conduit to bring improvement in their wellbeing that would attract more people to the career.
The midwife noted that women are still giving birth at their houses in and out of the Capital, Monrovia as a result of limited support to address emergencies cases.
Most of the maternal mortality cases according to her occurred as a result of traditional delivery by people who have not done formal training on safe delivery.
Madam Manobah wants sufficient awareness carried out on the importance of having a safe delivery at hospitals and desisting from traditional delivery not approved by the Midwifery Board.