We are just leaving Zimbabwe, having spent a month traveling 4000 km around the country. In between safaris, national parks and Victoria Falls I've visited a few rural clinics and met midwives and mothers--one in labour who had a Hb of 4.6 g/dl--nothing unusual in many of the poorer areas apparently. Women work hard here; they carry water from the bore hole, and firewood from the forest, grind the corn, cook, feed the animals, wash and look after the kids, all with a baby strapped on their back and none of the household appliances we take for granted.
I'm sure the men do something but it seems to me they spend a lot of time sitting around watching the women! Despite this, women also make sure they have fun.
On a visit to meet traditional midwives with Dr. Sibanda from Common Knowledge, we were greeted by them singing and dancing a welcome, and our conversation was punctuated by much laughter and clapping. We might do some things differently--I haven't ever tried dried donkey placenta during a difficult labour, for example, but what was exhilarating for me was the many similarities. One midwife picked up her empty cola bottle to demonstrate how she gets a woman to blow into it to help deliver the placenta--exactly what my independent midwife in London suggested during my second child's birth at home.
So thank you and goodbye to all the midwives and women I've met here. My admiration and respect go out to you all.
We're off to Nepal and our next adventure. Watch this space!
-Annie Francis, midwife
Reprinted from Midwifery Today E-News (Vol 1 Issue 42, Oct 15, 1999)
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