Midwife Mondays 101: First Week in Tanzania – A few thoughts.

I can’t believe that I’ve been here a whole week already. Its one of those situations where I feel like I only just got here, but also I feel like I’ve been here AGES just from the huge amount that I’ve been doing!

I’m not going to write about what I’ve been doing each day because I’m going to cover that in my more detailed posts (Find them here) but I just wanted to write down a few things that I’ve been thinking etc this week.

After this week, I can completely see the huge benefit of doing an international placement. I have seen such a vast difference in practice, in how things are run, in attitudes and in general set up.
Yes, there have been things that I have seen or experienced that I have found difficult, but there have also been things that have amazed me. The way that these midwives and nurses can have such little resources and still be able to carry out their work in the way that they do is amazing and inspiring.

The practice is different, and that is something that, as an outsider, you have to accept out here rather than try to change. After all, I am a guest in this country, in this hospital, and getting a chance to see how they work is a privilege – even if it is tough to watch at times.

One thing that has struck me this week is that it all feels very much more “natural” out here. And I don’t mean that in the sense that the women don’t have pain relief or monitoring or anything like that – I can’t really explain it properly. I suppose there is a lot less intervention and medicalising here, but there is also the sheer determination of these women in a way that I’m not sure you see in the same way in the UK. It’s so so tough on them, even down to having to get up and dressed immediately after delivery and carry their own bags to the postnatal ward; it’s really so tough and these women are hard as nails!

A lot of these women have had stillbirths or neonatal deaths in the past too, in fact the paperwork literally has a section which states the number of pregnancies, the number of live births and the number of live children…it’s just part of it out here.

I think this first week has made me very grateful for the resources that we have in the UK, with the monitoring and the drugs, but it has also brought me right back to the reality of it, the bare bones. Simply bringing a baby into the world – no “bells and whistles”, just simple childbirth. The research all supports the resources we use in the UK, but it has been so interesting to see it done this way too and I can’t wait to see what this next week brings!

To read my more detailed posts about each day out here, see my “African Midwifery Adventure” series here.

To read last week’s Midwife Mondays post, click here:

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