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Thursday, 18 February 2010

Emily, Darfur - Birth in a toilet

Later that week I tend to a lady who has just given birth to a premature baby at about 30 weeks, in the toilet. And when I say toilet, I mean an outside pit. The baby was rescued and brought to the delivery room. The mother is poorly, suffering from a serious infection. The baby seemed to be in good health, although it is having problems sucking. We administer antibiotic injections just to be safe.

That night, I’m awoken at 2am by the guard who is pointing towards the clinic. As we arrive, we find a lady in labour with the baby’s foot sticking out. I have never delivered a breech baby before. I wonder if the baby is still alive. I thought I heard a heartbeat, but then see that that the cord is next to the foot. This baby definitely isn't alive.

Battle of suvival

Even with the baby close to delivery, the woman's bump is still big. She must be having twins. I hope the second one survives. Please let it survive! This is her first pregnancy. When the first baby finally comes out, it is a relief but also heartbreaking. Some patches of the baby's skin have already started breaking down. There is no point in trying to resuscitate it.

All of us in the room are pushing with the mother and praying that the second baby makes it. It is a boy and he comes out crying! He weighs just two kilos, but that’s normal with twins, and they were born early. We are all filled with tears of relief.

Despite the high stress levels, I love this job; it is just amazing.

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