A midwife in South Sudan: Maban vs London

Laura, a midwife frome the UK, is working for Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in South Sudan. Today she blogs about the major differences she finds between her old job back in London, and her new one in Maban, South Sudan...

It’s quite obvious things have changed since arriving in South Sudan, but I thought I could post something fun to highlight some things you won’t find in the UK's National Health Service ;)

1. A bug zapper. Flies, mosquitoes, and wasps the size of my head all have free range... but no fly is a match for the zap! ;)

The bug zapper © Laura Bridle

2. The radio. Or, as I like to call it, the "walkie-talkie", is one of the main methods of communication between staff. Roger that.

The radio aka the walkie talkie © Laura Bridle

3. Ice bucket challenge. Oxytocin* needs to be kept cold, which means regular changing of ice packs.

The MSF style ice bucket challenge © Laura Bridle

4. Multiple pregnancies and childbirths. Many women here have 6+ children, making family planning discussion so important. Women here need the husbands' permission before making decisions about things like family planning, something I have to both respect and work with.

Pregnancy and childbirth coding data ©Laura Bridle

5. Malaria in pregnancy. With the wet season coming to an end, malaria is at an all time high in camp. Women are tested, treated and preventative measures are given to those admitted with us. Mosquito nets are given and free to take home.

Anti mosquito kit © Laura Bridle

6. Babies here have their cord tied twice with string, given iodine to keep clean, and this process is repeated daily to prevent infection. Cord clamps are only used for very large cords.

Umbilical cord ties © Laura Bridle

7. Visitors must be approached with caution. They don’t adhere to allocated visiting times and have been known to bite off their husbands' heads!

Praying mantis © Laura Bridle

8. Fluid charts here should include loss of sweat. When it’s 40oC outside and you’re in an inflatable tent it’s near on impossible to keep hydrated! The staff here regularly comment and laugh when they see me. "Laura, you’re sweating more than the lady giving birth!" (Awkward!)

Sweaty me! © Laura Bridle

*Oxytocin is a hormone that has multiple functions during and after childbirth.