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Global Blog - Guest post from Kirsty Lowe

Kirsty Lowe
25 September, 2017

Global Blog - Guest post from Kirsty Lowe

The RCM is keen to promote member engagement in its global work and to recognise the work that many of our members are doing to strengthen midwifery around the world.  In the first of a series of guest blogs, midwife Kirsty Lowe from Sheffield, shares her experience of volunteering as a trainer with the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine in Kenya

A group of people who have completed the 'Life saving skills course- in Emergency obstetric and newborn care'
Over the past 10 years I have been lucky enough to work as a midwife in a few different settings, mostly within the NHS but also within developed and developing health care systems in Cambodia, Indonesia, Kenya, Malawi and China. Being based in a large tertiary maternity unit in Sheffield, the Jessop Wing, for my first five years gave me a solid foundation of clinical skills and understanding of normal and abnormal pregnancy and birth and fantastic experience of meeting women from all over the world and all walks of life. I soon started to have a strong feeling that caring for women and their families goes beyond our borders and beyond our NHS.

I started volunteering and training with the Liverpool school of tropical medicine and their Centre for Maternal and newborn health in 2014. Facilitating their ‘Life saving Skills courses’ has been the highlight of my job as a midwife. In Kenya, Isiolo county, I worked alongside local faculty to deliver a 2 week long structured course for health care providers who work in resource poor settings. The course focuses on the leading causes of ill-health and aims to ensure both mother and baby survive and thrive during and after pregnancy and birth.

A group of people practising obstetric emergency drills and shoulder dystocia management with midwives and obstetricians

The participants included midwives, obstetricians and clinical officers, all of whom work in sometimes, difficult situations, trying to save lives. Working in line with the Sustainable Development goals and the World Health Organisation, we used a variety of teaching methods, including delivering lectures, facilitating group work, practical skills drills and some singing and dancing too. An important part of reaching these sustainable development goals is the provision of skilled birth attendance. And most of all we had great fun throughout the course. I worked closely with Steve, a very experienced and kind obstetrician from the UK and Akope a fantastic midwife from Kenya and lots of other lovely local faculty too.

With pre and post course assessment of skills, it’s extremely satisfying as a facilitator to see participants leaving the course with new skills and confidence. And on an even bigger scale to know that those skills will be used by staff to improve care for those who currently experience some of the worst maternal and infant outcomes.

I also walked away with a great deal of new knowledge shared by the amazingly resourceful and skilled staff that work in Isiolo county, Kenya. I also return to my job in the NHS feeling extremely grateful of the training that I receive every year to keep my skills up to date and the resources we have for women and staff.

A woman speaking about the importance of kangaroo mother care and how dads can practice it also
In all of the settings I work in, I want care to be safe, personalised, easily accessible and respectful for women and their families so that they walk away from care services feeling empowered and strong. This I think lays the foundation for a happy, healthy family. Our midwifery profession is intrinsic to every culture in the world and has a profound impact on how a society will function. And midwives are ideally placed and privileged to experience and support birth.

I’m looking forward to facilitating a new course focussing on antenatal and post natal care in Ghana in a few weeks time.

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