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Heroes of the childbirth continuum

BY: Rosemary Ardayfio& Doreen Andoh

Today, the global community is commemorating the annual International Midwives Day during which the world celebrates the work of midwives.

Undoubtedly, midwives deserve to be celebrated because of their essentialrole in bringing life into the world,

albeit this year they should also be recognised for the sacrifice they are making in this COVID-19 era.

As Mrs Mary Addy, a Senior Midwife at the Kaneshie Polyclinic, puts it: “As midwives we are happy to be at the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic and are proudly writing our names in

the national history books by helping to contain the global pandemic in the lineof our duty.

She said initially the numbers of pregnant women accessing antenatal (ANC) reduced due to fear and misinformation surrounding the COVID-19, but with gradual and heightened public education the

situation has normalised.

“We are happy that all our pregnant women are coming for their routine ANC and are adhering to all the safety protocols we have taught them,” she said.A midwife at the Holy Trinity

Hospital in Accra, Ms Elizabeth Sowah,also said midwives realised that with the COVID-19 situation, they had to step up their education to pregnant women attending ANC and that had

reassured their clients of their safety.

“As a result, all midwifery services were going on without disruption,especially at the facilities, and that has brought satisfaction to our clients,” she added.

Working with women

Midwives, indeed, work with women every day, as they partner them in their care during the childbirth continuum.During this interaction, they have a unique opportunity to get to know each

other and to build trusting and reciprocal relationships through the continuum of pregnancy, labour, birth and the postnatal period. Through these relationships, midwives become

trusted members of families and communities.In its message to midwives, the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) said the theme for the day, ‘Celebrate. Demonstrate. Mobilise.

Unite,’ focused on how midwives and women could partner to mobilise and unite toward a shared goal of gender equality.

“Midwives play a vital role in the gender equality movement:Every day, midwives in every part of the work are upholding women’s rights to quality and midwifeled care throughout the childbirth

continuum. We are the feminist profession,” the Confederation said.It further noted that midwives used their voice to speak up in community discussions around female genital mutilation, child marriage,

contraception, and sexual reproductive health and rights.“They can and do play an active role in driving progress towards gender equality in their communities and countries. Midwives around the world

stand with women,” it added.

Caregivers

In Ghana, where the United Nations Population Fund, (UNFPA) is marking the day with a social media campaign,the agency’s Resident Representative,Mr Niyi Ojuolape, said countries across

the world were uniting in recognition of the essential role the midwives played in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and Universal health coverage.“Midwives are the defenders of the

rights of women as they are the caregivers to millions of women and newborns. Midwives are the ones who made it possible for us to be alive today because of the care our mothers

received,” he stated.He reiterated that midwives were crucial to reducing maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality and must be celebrated for their achievements and their contribution to

improving sexual, reproductive,maternal and newborn health outcomes.

Mr Ojuolape urged policy makers to lobby for adequate midwifery resources and recognition of the unique professional role of midwives.

Work of midwives

The Director of Nursing and Midwifery Services, Ghana Health Service, Mrs Eva Mensah, has also expressed gratitude to all midwives for their dedication to ensuring safe

deliveries that are also devoid of COVID-19 transmissions.“May 5 is the time to recognise the important work of midwives around the world and show support for the

work they do,” Mrs Mensah added and applauded them for being committed to the health and safety of expectant mothers even in the scare of COVID-19 and reports of some healthcare

professionals contracting COVID-19 in the line of duty.She appealed to them to adhere to protective measures such as the wearing of the right PPE in the line of duty to avoid being exposed to COVID-

19, as the key to the success of nursing care is the strict adherence to Universal Precautions, particularly for airborne and droplet infections.“We need you alive as much as you

strive to keep women bringing new lives into being alive safely and helping people to plan their families,” she stated.

Adhere to safety

The acting Director of the Family Health Division of the Ghana Health Service, Dr Isabella Sagoe-Moses, also added her voice by expressing gratitude to midwives for their relentless

perseverance to service even in the scare of the global pandemic.She urged all nurses and midwives to adhere to precautionary measures conveyed by the President of Ghana to

keep themselves and other families healthy to achieve quality care."Ghana needs your services and we need you to be brave as our mother of nursing 'Florence Nightingale' in the

fight against the COVID-19," she said.Dr Sagoe-Moses appealed to expectant mothers to continue their antenatal visits as it was critical to ensuring their health and that of their

babies as well as their chances of survival in any emergency that might occur due to their conditions.She said midwives and nurses were working as usual for the sake of the

public and should follow all guidelines provided by the health facilities they patronise to prevent COVID-19 transmissions as they continued toseek health care.