Chioma Rita Okoye is a midwife with seven years’ experience. She shares what is like working as a midwife in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
What is different in the child delivery process now that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is a factor?
The main difference is the likelihood of seeing health practitioners such as nurses, midwives, doctors etc in masks more often than they may have before COVID-19 during delivery. Again, mothers who might be or are sick with COVID-19 [will be] put into designated isolated delivery rooms in the labour and delivery unit and nurses/midwives must put on PPEs (personal protective equipment) before entering those rooms. Expectant mothers are still attending antenatal classes [and] we offer audio consultations and message to check up on mother and baby well being and home visitations.
What sort of challenges are parents of newborns likely to experience in view of COVID-19 pandemic?
Parents of newborn will be faced with many challenges: Primarily, the fear of mother and child contracting the disease from the hospital setting due to increased exposure of health workers and its airborne nature.
Lack of visitation by friends, families and well wishers could result [in a] high-stress situation to the partner providing all needs to support the new mother and baby.
Also, financial constraints especially for the low socioeconomic status families.
What challenges do midwives face at this time?
Inadequate resources such as gloves, PPEs, masks etc, especially in the health centres. There are no emergency vehicles like ambulances for transporting or responding to these women in their various homes especially in this pandemic. Using ambulances will reduce infection spread and the anxiety of contracting the airborne disease.
[There is a] shortage of midwives resulting from poor salary structure, working conditions and fear due to the predominant exposure and death rate of health workers due to COVID-19.
The World recently celebrated International Midwifery Day. What words of encouragement do you have for other midwives?
Midwives are encouraged to attend international conferences, web seminars, workshops to gain new knowledge on clinical professional practice.
To join and actively participate in the association of international Confederation of Midwives. I encourage my fellow midwives to get involved with social media campaigns by making use of social media messaging.
What advice do you have for expectant parents in view of COVID-19?
Expectant parents should follow the guidelines for staying safe and follow the hospital routines during antenatal visits and labour/delivery.
Parents should ensure that anyone who is caring for the new born baby should also follow the guidelines. And of course, report to NCDC of any suspected symptoms of COVID-19 as soon as possible. In adhering to the World Health Organisation guidelines of COVID-19, new born babies should not be worn face masks to avoid death due to suffocation.
* International Midwifery Day is celebrated on May 5.