The birth center where I’m volunteering is very family-friendly, and midwives who have daughters are welcomed and encouraged to bring them to work. Hosanna will come on her first birthroom shift later this month, and Naomi has joined me at the clinic several times in the last few weeks.Our shifts are 8 hours: 6 am to 2 pm, 2 pm to 10 pm, or 10 pm to 6 am. Naomi has eagerly come with me three times so far and always has a great time. Much to her disappointment, there have not yet been any babies born while she was there! A typical day sees between two and five babies born, though there have been as many as 14 born in one day before. It’s very rare for 24 hours to go by with no births. But now and then we’ll have a “quiet” shift with no babies born and this has been the case each time Naomi has come with me so far.
Even when there are no births happening, there’s almost always something going on at the clinic. The patients stay for at least six hours after birth (longer if mother or baby need extra care) so there are usually patients in the postpartum area who need looking after. Mothers bring their babies in for postpartum check-ups. Yesterday, Naomi packaged gauze for the autoclave with her friend Princess. (It is summer vacation for the Philippine schools right now and so Princess spends a lot time at the clinic, as her parents both work here – her dad is a guard and her mom is one of the administrative staff.)
Back in the states, sterile gauze come prepackaged and pre-sterilized. All the gauze used here at the clinic (and we use a lot for 1500 births a year!) is folded, wrapped, and sterilized “in house.” First the long roll of gauze is cut into large pieces which are carefully folded so that all the cut edges are on the inside. Then two squares of folded gauze are wrapped in a paper packet. Naomi and Princess did a great job of wrapping!
After the gauze is wrapped, it goes into a cloth bag to be autoclaved, along with the cloth packages of instruments.
Naomi is hoping to see her first birth soon, but in the meantime, she’s finding ways to keep busy and help out on shift!