[Tanzania] Think Call the Midwife looks like hard graft? Try delivering babies in the dark

Mary Raphael – Telegraph.co.uk – Wednesday, 12 February 2014 (originally published 10 Feb)

Tanzania Midwife
As series 3 of Call the Midwife continues, Mary Raphael, a Tanzanian midwife, offers a different perspective of the job in a country where there are only four midwives for every 10,000 pregnant women . Image: Mary Raphael

Delivering a baby can be challenging, as we’ve seen from the latest series of Call the Midwife. Delivering a baby in the dark is even more challenging. But helping mothers to give birth by the light of candles, kerosene lamps – or even mobile phones – is not unusual if you’re a midwife in Africa.

Once, I was helping a mother deliver her baby in the middle of the night when the power went off. She was already in labour, so I had to keep going using only the light from my mobile. The lights might go out, but we’ve still got mobile phones. I had to keep pressing buttons on my phone just to illuminate the room. To complicate things further, the colleague who was helping me had to rush off and help another woman in labour. The baby became very tired and I had to resuscitate him when he arrived. Thankfully, both he and mother came through.

I’m a midwife in Tanzania and delivering babies by the light of a mobile phone is just one of the challenges we have to contend with. Tanzania has one of the highest rates of maternal mortality in the world, registering 454 deaths for every 100,000 live births . . .

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