Lensa’s Story: Raising Skills, Saving Lives

At Maternity Worldwide we know that one of the key factors in ensuring sustainable improvements to maternal health services is that local clinical staff develop the knowledge and skills to enable them to carry out the procedures needed to save mothers’ lives.

Lensa is a Diploma Nurse who works in the Homa Health Centre in West Wollega, Ethiopia.  Lensa qualified two years ago and since then she has attended a series of training sessions run by Maternity Worldwide which have enabled her to increase her skills and confidence. The importance of this was clear when Lensa had to cope single handed with an emergency delivery at the health centre.

Birhane was expecting her second baby. As her first had been delivered by caesarean section, Birhane was advised by health centre staff that she should have her baby in hospital. She went in to labour late in the evening by which time no public transport was available and it took her family some time to find someone to drive her to hospital. They started the two hour journey to the hospital but heavy rainfall had made the road inaccessible and they had to take a long detour. About half way through the journey Birhane realised she was about to deliver. Fortunately she was near Homa Health Centre where Lensa was working.

Birhane was rushed in to the delivery room.  Lensa realised that Birhane was fully dilated and the baby’s head was visible. Just 20 minutes after arriving at the health centre, Birhane delivered a health 2.5kg girl. Lensa was just about to deliver the after birth (placenta) when Birhane experienced further contractions and started pushing again. Lensa’s examination revealed that there was a second baby, a complete surprise to Birhane who had no idea she was expecting twins.  With Lensa’s help Birhane delivered a second healthy baby girl.

After the delivery Birhane suffered considerable bleeding.  Because of the training she had received from Maternity Worldwide, Lensa knew what action to take and she was able to administer a drug to help the uterus contract. Birhane’s bleeding subsided and Lensa was also able to stitch the tear which had occurred during delivery. Birhane was soon well enough to have her two new babies in bed with her.

Without the skilled help which Lensa was able to provide it is possible that Birhane and her babies could have suffered serious injury and even death.

Lensa admitted that she had been anxious at the time but that her training had made her confident she could deliver the babies safely.

“I had the confidence to manage the situation. Before I would not have been confident to  deal with the things that happened but now I have had training from Maternity Worldwide and I know what to do. Before I couldn’t do that.”

Afterwards we asked Lensa  which aspects of the training had helped her to enable Birhane to give birth safely. She said the importance of not referring a woman on to hospital when she is fully dilated; the skills to rupture the membranes of a second twin; being able to suture a tear; knowing what to do to help contract the uterus and being able to administer the necessary drug.

Maternity Worldwide is now providing the funding to enable Lensa to become a fully qualified midwife, you can read updates about her progress on our blog here.