Where did you give birth or where was the birth you witnessed?
Western Uganda, near the border with Democratic Republic of Congo
Can you describe where your/the birth was?
The birth was indoors in a tiny health centre, with one labour room and intermittent running water and electricity. In the room was a teenager giving birth for the first time and her grandmother, myself as midwife sharing this role with my Ugandan colleague and a student nurse from the UK on an elective placement, witnessing his first birth.
It was a hot day with not much room to move but it felt right for us all to be there to share the experience together. The atmosphere was very relaxed and celebratory. We were quiet, sharing knowledge and Grandmother was doing a wonderful job as attendant.
Who was present at your/the birth?
We all remained present at the time of delivery. The soon to be Mum was content for us to be there, and happy for our student to witness the event. She had a big stone in her hand that she picked up on the way to the health centre and squeezed it throughout every contraction.
Can you describe the experience of giving birth or watching the birth?
It was a wonderful birth. I had experienced a lot of traumatic events in the hospital maternity unit during my work in Uganda. This was a labour and birth where the woman was completely in charge and we were just waiting for the baby to come with no anxieties or worries. The health centre was very close to the hospital if an emergency occurred but with only one delivery bed, there was complete privacy.
I was able to support everyone and keep things relaxed, confident in the power of the woman’s body to labour and deliver efficiently. She wanted to stay on the couch so I encouraged her to lie on her left side.
My Ugandan midwife-friend had never seen this position before for birth. The baby was delivered beautifully, in excellent condition with no perineal trauma.
As at most births I had witnessed in Uganda, once the baby is born the family take over and help the woman to breast feed, wash and dress herself, they feed her and help her into the postnatal bed to sleep. Her attendants stay with her overnight and look after her and baby.
The reason I wanted to share this story was that it stood out as a perfect example of normal birth where I was able to be with woman, to share knowledge with my graceful colleague, to enable a student nurse to see a birth and to have time to teach and reflect on the experience.
It made me feel whole as a midwife and not distracted by the demands of a busy ward or scared something might go wrong, which is sometimes how I spend my days working in the UK.