By Jane Drichta, CPM (midwife volunteer)
The word “Midwife” means “with women,” and my time at Shanti has taken that definition out of the dictionary and into the real-est of real life. Working side by side with the Shanti midwives was an exercise in cross cultural education. “How do you treat pre-eclampsia?” “How many iron supplements do you give?” “Do you test for Group B Strep in Uganda?” The questions and explanations went on and on, all of us learning from each other. So much was so different, but more importantly, so much was the same.
I almost prefer doing prenatal visits in a foreign language. It is just a riot and leads to so much laughter. Clearly I am not from here, and clearly, I am clueless in Lugandan. Thank goodness for the graciousness of both the clients, and the midwives, as I struggle to answer their questions in a meaningful way. I especially enjoyed showing the mothers how to palpate their bellies themselves, showing them what baby parts were what. Its just one more way for them to bond with their babies, and for me to bond with them.
I was thrilled to find that the Shanti midwives were interested in waterbirth. About 90% of my births at home are done in the water, so I was excited to share this gentle way of birthing with the midwives. Perhaps one day, Shanti will be the waterbirth center of Uganda, and mamas will come from miles away to deliver this way!
While I am always eager to return to my own clients after a trip, it will be difficult to leave the beautiful grounds and peaceful spirit of Shanti’s birthing center. It is my fondest desire to see the center grow and spread peace and hope to all the mothers who come here.