This update is overdue I am sorry to say; it is also long because it is so overdue. I don’t particularly like long updates. However I am perplexed on how to give you the past two months happenings without the length.
In Oct my class mates and I headed into the quagmire of pregnancy complications, our instructors had warned us the first week of class about the impending ‘hell week’, however, they didn’t tell us what it entailed until the week the assignment was given.
A list of over 30 complications in pregnancy; for each one we were required to define, give the history and causes of, signs and symptoms of, treatment and care of, along with any related tests and expected outcomes. Our instructors looked at us with twinkles in their eyes trying to find fear in us. We groaned and moaned and held our breath as the list was read to us with glee by our fearless leaders. During our break we students quickly devised a plan. We would split the assignment up equally, everyone would have two complications each, plus pre-eclampsia (which had its own additional criteria separate from the ‘list’) and vocabulary. We decided to meet mid-week and discuss our findings and email each other our portions, hence compiling the information, the end result was 74 pages and 25,083 words.
After that, ‘complications’ was in nearly all our assignments, from labor, birth, hemorrhage, newborn and postpartum danger signs and for the rest of October we were bombarded with deviations from ‘normal’. How to identify it and what to do about it, and what is of upmost importance is prevention for everything preventable and foreseen.
We also had some fun in October, we celebrated Thanksgiving Canadian style, which is pretty much like the U.S. only in October….
We had an IV skills day, for most of the class this was their first time sticking someone with a needle, good times and bruising were had by all.
My favorite assignment was during this month, an art project! There was much freedom in the nature of the project, it only had to be focused on pregnancy, birth, midwifery, motherhood, etc. I have to say we had a very talented class. There were sketches, paintings, songs, games, needlework, sewing and making of slings and teaching aids.
Finally November 1 arrived and we discussed in even more depth the newborn and how to help them get a jump start in life. Things like establishing breastfeeding within the first hour after birth is crucial for infant survival, decreasing neonatal and infant deaths and also decreases many health risks later in life and through adulthood. Even more astounding is that establishing breastfeeding in the first 30 minutes after birth…this dramatically decreases the neonate (newborn) death rates much more than even in the first hour after birth. Although the majority of these deaths are in developing countries, the U.S. is continually at the wrong end of the statistics regarding maternal/infant mortality rates among all the developed countries. The most medically advanced nation in the world has one highest maternal/infant death rates….something’s wrong here. Almost 17 women out of every 100,000 who give birth die in the U.S. this is compared to 4 in Italy, 7 in Japan 8 in the U.K….makes one stop and think.
Throughout the course we watched a number of birth related movies and documentaries that covered a variety of topics and issues. In November we watched a couple of documentaries on fistulas, this is a tragic complication that can arise usually when birth has been prolonged or stalled. In developing countries often times the mother is quite young or did not grow to her full potential for lack of adequate nutrition, resulting in a small pelvis. The lack of skilled birth attendants and transportation often delay the mother getting medical help. It is common for the baby to die before it is born and the mother who has been in labor sometimes for many days ends up with a fistula, a condition that causes her to be incontinent this can be either urinary incontinence or fecal, or both. The stories of these women are tragic, they are often shunned from the community and even their families. We were all absolutely a puddle of tears after watching these movies. I highly recommend watching the documentary ‘A Walk to Beautiful’….
We finished up the month by investigating the female pelvis…and learning about pelvimetry and the 4 types of pelvis’, what’s good about em, what’s bad about em….
Family planning and well woman care were other topics we covered. Our last assignments were online and focused on pregnancy, childbirth, newborn and postpartum care in developing countries. Although our instructors teach a good deal on that already, as they live and work overseas primarily, it was very useful and insightful.
We also took a couple of field trips, one was just for fun, up to Gold Fork Hot Springs. A perfect cold November day complete with a little snow on the ground a few flurries amidst the pine trees and hot water, lots of conversation and relaxation.
The last week of class we visited the Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial in Boise where we were given a guided tour. We learned about Anne and her family’s struggle for survival along with the development of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was adopted by the United Nations in 1948. There are 30 articles in the document, article 25 is one that spoke to us as we continue towards our vocation as midwives; …..The mother who is going to have a baby, and her baby should get special help. All children have the same rights, whether or not the mother is married.
As the end of the course drew near we were all feeling the bittersweetness of the foreseen end. The thing we had been working so hard towards the past three months was nearly finished, and yet once we finished we would be parting ways. We had late night study sessions, drank plenty of coffee and laughed, a LOT…. I am excited for all my classmates, they will be doing some amazing things in the near future.
I will close this update by telling you I have completed the academic portion of my studies and well, it feels really good and I have a big smile on my face about it. I am making plans for my internships and will post more on that soon. Thanks to all who are following me and partnering with me on this journey. I am hopeful for the future and am looking forward to the next phase.
Below are a couple of my favorite quotes from the Anne Frank Memorial…
“How lovely to think that no one need wait a moment, we can start now, start slowly changing the world!” - Anne Frank, March 26, 1944
Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
nothing’s going to get better.
Dr Suess, The Lorax