31 July 2013
Looking out of the door of my hut here in Acholiland, northern Uganda, I can see a tree spreading its branches out underneath a cloudy sky. It’s the rainy season here. The ground it wet, everything is green and growing, and the cheeping chicks are trailing around after mother hens as roosters cry out, “Cock-a-doodle-doo!” (Gotta love those onomatopoetic bird-words. J) The rain not only poured down on the tin roof of the birth center here on the Mother Health International campus last night, but also there were so many mothers and babies coming in that I found myself saying, “It’s raining babies!”
I personally attended four of the births yesterday. Early in the morning, I charted as my midwife-teacher, Kate, resolved a shoulder dystocia in two and a half minutes. Shoulder dystocia is when a baby’s head is born but the shoulders get stuck in the pelvis. This is dangerous because a baby must be fully born to make the transition to breathing and life outside of the womb well. Thankfully, shoulder dystocia is rare. Usually, it can be resolved if the laboring mother flips onto her hands and knees to give birth. If that doesn’t work (and it didn’t yesterday morning), the midwife can help put one of one of the mother’s legs into a runner’s lunge to widen the pelvis. If that doesn’t work (and it didn’t yesterday), the midwife must use her hands to slip the baby’s posterior shoulder out so that the anterior shoulder can get, to put it simply, un-stuck. This did work yesterday, and the baby was born beautifully.
I watched a midwife save a life yesterday.
For anyone interested, yesterday morning’s baby was born from an OP (occiput posterior) position, face up or (as we sometimes say) “sunny-side” up. A shoulder dystocia with a baby in this position is very, very rare! (Thank God.) Midwives might be interested to know that there was no tearing or neonatal resuscitation. I’m so thankful that the baby and mama, a mother of eight, are both recovering well and will go home to be with their family in Okidi parish soon.
For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O LORD, from my youth.
Upon you I have leaned from before my birth.
You are he who took me from my mother’s womb.
My praise is continually of you.
~ Psalm 71: 5-6