When we arrived for our weekly mother’s session and clinical services at Aplaya*, we were told that Janine**, one of the neighborhood women, had given birth to her 8th child two hours earlier. Another mother was worried about the way the baby’s cord had been handled, so our Midwife May Arzaga went to check on the baby.
When she arrived however, it was the mother that required attention. She complained of severe dizziness, so May took her blood pressure. It had dropped to 70/60. May was alarmed, so she asked Janine if she could perform an internal exam. When May removed the blanket that covered her, it was dark red and the mat underneath her was thick with blood. Janine was bleeding heavily and suffering from blood loss. May called for our nurse, Deng, and they swiftly administered Oxytocin and Methergine, drugs that help prevent post partum hemorrhaging. May then removed pieces of the baby’s placenta that were still in Janine’s womb and that had been left there by the traditional healer who had assisted with the birth.
The Roots of Health team placed an ice pack over Janine’s abdomen to promote the contraction of the uterus and further prevent post partum bleeding. May also inserted vaginal packing to help stop the bleeding, and massaged Janine’s uterus to promote uterine contractions. After an hour of continuous monitoring and care, Janine’s blood pressure had risen to 80/70 and she was no longer dizzy. Her vaginal bleeding had also subsided. Janine and her new baby were referred to the Barangay midwife for continued monitoring.
As for the newborn, the ROH health team found that his umbilical cord had been tied with thread, which is not strong enough to properly keep the cord stump tied. They replaced the thread with a cord clamp and taught Janine how to properly clean and care for her baby’s umbilical cord. A routine Vitamin K injection was given to the infant to promote blood clotting and prevent hemorrhagic disease in the newborn and Erythromycin was applied to the baby’s eyes to prevent infection.
Janine was so thankful to our staff for immediately responding to her situation. We can only imagine what would have happened if our clinical team had not been in the community. In the future we hope that the women in Aplaya will come to trust nurses and midwives over traditional healers. Until then we will provide the best care we can to our clients. Indeed it’s always a wonderful feeling to be able to help save the life of a mother.
* Not her real name.
*Aplaya is a small, coastal community in Barangay Tagburos, about 30 minutes drive out of Puerto Princesa City, Palawan. The programming there has been made possible though the crowdfunding website, Catapult.