My African Midwifery Adventure – Day 1 – Orientation!

So I’ve been trying to work out the best way to write about this trip; there is just too much to leave it all until my regular Midwife Mondays posts, and I think I want to do a few more posts so I can share a bit more detail of everything I’m doing out here – there’s just so much to share – so I think I’m going to do it in a series of posts, and then my normal Midwife Mondays post will be a bit of a summary of the week and any particular thoughts or reflections I may have on it (with the details in these posts)

Anyway, here goes;

So, our first day, Monday, was orientation day; a day for seeing the hospital, sorting currency, having a bit of a look around, sorting sim cards so we can contact each other and generally getting to know the area a little.

We started with trips to the hospital. As Work The World work with not only Midwives but Nurses, Physios, Medics, Surgeons and more, we aren’t all based at the same hospital. In fact, the student midwives are the only ones based at Amana Hospital, so when it came to hospital orientation we all split up and headed to our individual base hospitals for a look around.

There were two other student midwives starting this week too, so it wasn’t just me, which was nice! We travelled in on the Dala Dala (like a minibus, they are all over the city, rammed to the rafters with as many people as they can fit on, clattering along the streets of Dar Es Salaam) which certainly was an experience to say the least! There are other ways to get in to the hospital that feel a lot safer so we may avoid using the Dala Dala too much, but I’m glad we had the chance to do it – and with one of the Work The World team with us to make sure we didn’t get lost too!

The Maternity unit we are based at is quite large, but when you bear in mind the number of babies they deliver every month, it really isn’t that big at all! Last month, over 1300 babies were born in the Labour Ward – an average of 42 babies every 24 hours!

We were shown the antenatal ward (which is also where the women in labour go until they are at least 6cm dilated), the postnatal ward (where the women are 3 to a bed and have to stay for at least 24 hours after any delivery) and finally labour ward, which is fast-paced, busy and yet so incredibly quiet. The women aren’t allowed to shout, scream or moan in labour, which is a really different experience from the UK – it just doesn’t feel like a labour ward at all; it’s too quiet!

After we had looked around the hospital, we headed back onto the Dala Dala and back towards the house. We were meeting the other new starters for lunch so we hopped off the Dala Dala near the restaurant and hopped on a Tuk Tuk, which was good fun and completely mad!

Lunch was a traditional African buffet spread – lots of rice and various different meats in sauces. I’m still not entirely sure what meat I ate, but it was all delicious!

After lunch we headed back to the house for a a bit of a chill and to grab our money and things for the admin part of the day. Then we headed out again.

We started by walking the 6/7min walk down to the beach (so close by!) and then we hopped on a tuk tuk to where we sort our currency out (you can’t get hold of Tanzanian Shilling in the UK so you have to bring US dollars and then change them out here)

Once everyone had their money sorted, we had a bit of a wander around – it was such a gorgeous area to explore, with restaurants, shops, ice cream bars and a stunning view too! Definitely want to go back there!

Our final stop for the day was the phone shop to sort out sim cards – they advise that we get a sim card so we can contact each other and also so we can access internet etc while we are in the country. It’s really reasonably priced too so I was able to get a good data deal and can use my phone pretty much as normal out here; definitely makes it feel a lot less detached from M and my family while I’m away.

When we got back to the house we had a beginners Swahili lesson to help us be able to at least say “Hello” and “My Name Is Rosie” etc in Swahili, even if we can’t understand their responses! The lesson finished at about 6.15 and dinner was ready at 6.30 so not much downtime!

Dinner at the Work The World House is buffet style and all quite healthy and freshly made – really does the job after a busy day!

Needless to say, we were all completely shattered after our orientation day, so after a quick game with everyone out on the front deck of the house, we were ready for a good night’s sleep ahead of our first proper day in the hospital! Eek!

To read about the rest of my trip, see the “My African Midwifery Adventure” posts here, or click on the links below.

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