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Celebrating midwives: Edinah delivers babies, one safe birth at a time

Celebrating midwives: Edinah delivers babies, one safe birth at a time

KISUGU, Kampala, Uganda: Grimacing and sweating, twenty-three-year-old Samiya, a refugee from Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is expecting her first child and is experiencing intense pain while waiting in labour at Kisugu Health Centre in Kampala, Uganda.

“The baby can come any minute now,” says 29-year-old nurse and midwife Edinah. Edinah examines her and uses a fetal heart rate monitor to measure how fast the baby's heart is beating while both parents listen eagerly.

The mom-to-be is accompanied by her husband who diligently looks after his wife as he is very concerned about the arrival of the baby. Edinah, gently comforts them and assures them of the good health of mom and baby, calming them and raising mom’s confidence for the hard work ahead of her.

After some time, Edinah encourages Samiya to stand up and move around to manage her pain during contractions and to help to naturally progress the labour. Her husband walks along with her waddle not wanting to leave her side.

Minutes turned into hours and the night into dawn. And at sunrise at the beginning of the morning shift Edinah helped Samiya safely deliver a healthy, beautiful baby boy.

Edinah is not just a midwife she serves as “psychologist and friend" too. She listens, guides and empowers the women that go through her maternity ward by giving them the support they need to better understand their physical and emotional journeys through pregnancy and after the birth of a child. Edinah is a mother herself - to a 2-year-old boy named Champion.

She was just 12 years -old when she helped to deliver a baby for the first time. The woman in labour was her own mother. She recalls that her mom was shouting out instructions to her on what to do, even when and how she should cut the baby’s umbilical cord.

Unfortunately, a few days later the baby sister died due to complications. It was at this point she realised and fully understood the risks involved in childbirth and how important it is to have access to professional health care.

Notwithstanding, her childhood experience with child delivery was a challenging and tremendously touching one. Edinah explains: "I felt joy bringing new life into the world". And from that moment she decided to dedicate her life to what she believed was her calling to become a nurse and a midwife. It has been a remarkable and tireless journey so far and she cannot imagine herself doing anything else.

"To be a midwife is joyful but at the same time can be very stressful because sometimes you have to deal with anything that might unexpectedly arise. In my opinion it takes three components to be a great midwife: first knowledge and continuous learning, second: passion, to feel a sense of connectedness and desire, and third: faith, to have the confidence in what you do."

Since 2019, she has been working at Kisugu Health Centre, a facility in Kampala supported under the Regional United Nations Joint Programme 2gether 4 SRHR. Edinah is one of 250 Health workers from 27 health facilities and eight districts who were trained by the programme to scale up quality integrated sexual reproductive health, HIV and gender-based violence services.

This was done through the development and review of pre-and in-service curriculum, community system strengthening, on-site mentorship and skills training of health workers.

The biggest challenge she finds in her work is helping adolescent pregnancy cases. "There is a lack of mental health support in reproductive health for young girls. They are afraid to get guidance and frank information about sex with their own parents. I wish and dream that there will be a dedicated centre where young girls and women could freely come and learn about reproductive and sexual health and their rights and could receive the psychosocial support they urgently need." Edinah says.

Edinah travels to work every day on a boda boda motorbike taxi. It takes her approximately 30 minutes to get to work.

Edinah examines her patient (Samiya) - performing antenatal screening and diagnostic tests.

Edinah uses a foetal heart rate monitor to measure how fast the baby's heart is beating while both parents listen; this first-time mom-to-be is accompanied by her husband.

Edinah smiles as she speaks to her fellow co-workers while filling administration duties.

Edinah holds a newborn baby at the Kisugu Health Centre III in Kampala, Uganda.

Edinah helps Samiya to hold her newborn baby in preparation for breastfeeding.

Edinah instructs Samiya how she should hold her baby in preparation for breastfeeding.