Midwife Mondays 102: Working in Tanzania – I’m back!!

Hello all, remember me?

I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if you didn’t; before yesterday, it had been over two weeks since I posted! That’s probably the longest I’ve gone without posting on this blog in over 3 years!

It’s just been so bloomin’ busy – there was so much going on out in Tanzania that I simply couldn’t find proper time to sit down and write posts out, and then I had 36 hours after I got back (in which I basically slept and did laundry!) and then I was off again, with M, to Spain for a bit of time just us – I’ll share a bit more about that trip soon, promise!

I am still planning on getting the individual day posts out for my Tanzanian trip, because there is just so much that I want to share – it’ll just take me a bit of time to get them all written, given that I start 3rd Year tomorrow etc, but I want to make sure I get them out because it was such an amazing experience and I want to be able to share it with you guys!

Anyway, as this is technically meant to be last monday’s Midwife Mondays post, it should really be a bit of a summary or overview of my final week in Africa, so here goes;

It’s really hard to try to summarise the experience (which I think is another reason I am doing the individual posts too!)

Yes, there were times that were difficult and I saw practices that made me cringe, but its not something you can be judgemental or critical about – they do it the way that they do it, with such limited resources, and it might be completely different but it works for them.

I saw things out there that I would never get the chance to see in the UK, like a footling breech delivery and a classical incision term c section (top to bottom instead of across hip to hip), which were both really interesting to see.

I was also exposed to things that we see really infrequently in the UK but that now, if I were faced with them, I would feel much more confident approaching, like an absolutely BEAUTIFUL hands off breech delivery that I saw on my last day. Now, If I am faced with a vaginal breech delivery in the UK, yes, I will be anxious, but I’ve seen it on more than a mannequin, which is probably more than several of the qualified midwives on the delivery wards in the UK, and I would feel better about taking on the challenge.

I learnt so much on my placement out there; not just about how different it is out there and the different cases and situations that arise, but also about how lucky we are to have the NHS and the resources we have, the seemingly different value we place on life (probably because of the resources we have) and how special midwifery in the UK is – being “with woman” and not just walking in when you can see the head, pulling your gloves on an delivering. It’s a very special kind of care and I feel very lucky to be able to be part of that.

I had an amazing time and learned a lot, but I’m also really looking forward to getting back into UK labour care, where you care for the woman, get to know her and her family, respect her wishes and her dignity, where she gives informed consent and has a say in her own care, and where we can bring her baby into the world safely and with so many more resources to help if any problems should arise.

It’s not that the UK do it “better” or that Tanzanian Maternity care is “bad” by any stretch of the imagination, it’s just a completely different world with completely different resources and knowledge bases – the two simply cannot be compared that way; it wouldn’t be fair. They are both remarkable in their own way and I feel completely honoured to have been able to see those differences and carry out care, catch babies and meet amazing women in both settings.

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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