For the past four years, Rahmet has been learning how to deliver babies and manage maternal health for women in remote Ethiopian communities. In the process, she has been learning how to save lives and prevent obstetric fistula injuries. Rahmet is now in the final year of her Bachelor of Science in Midwifery degree and is preparing for life working as a Hamlin Midwife in a Hamlin-supported midwifery clinic.
A practical approach to learning midwifery
Students at the Hamlin College of Midwives start attending practical clinical placements at Hamlin-supported midwifery clinics in their second year. In these placements, midwifery students get first-hand experience in assessing patients and managing complications. Practical clinical placements also help midwifery students meet the stringent standards of the International Confederation of Midwives – including the precondition that students conduct at least 40 deliveries before they graduate.
“The practical training at the clinic is good. Importantly it helps me learn the community’s way: their lifestyle, culture, and relationship with healthcare workers – and find out what they think about the healthcare and maternal care system. It will help me serve my community with kind, respectful and compassionate care,” says Rahmet.
During her clinical placements, Rahmet learnt about general maternal and child health, including antenatal care, delivery, and postpartum care. Rahmet visited women in their homes to provide health education, immunisation and family planning services.
Hamlin Midwives are helping to eradicate fistula
Obstetric fistula occurs when a woman in obstructed labour doesn’t have access to a medical professional. Too many women in rural and remote Ethiopia still don’t have access to adequate maternal health care – approximately 70% of women in Ethiopia give birth without a midwife present. This means that when complications arise, there is no capacity for appropriate medical intervention that can save the lives of both mother and baby and prevent childbirth injuries like fistula from occurring.
Dr Catherine Hamlin believed that midwifery “is the answer – to put a well-trained midwife in every village would soon eradicate obstetric fistula.” In 2007 Catherine opened the Hamlin College of Midwives with the aim of training and deploying midwives. Since then, 195 Hamlin Midwives have graduated with their Bachelor of Science in Midwifery degree from the College. These midwives have brought expertise and compassion to the Hamlin-supported midwifery clinics to which they were deployed. As Catherine explained, “If these poor women who come to [Hamlin fistula hospitals] had only had access to a trained midwife early in labour, they would have recognised something was wrong and been sent to the nearest hospital.” In communities where Hamlin Midwives have been deployed, rates of fistula have dropped to virtually zero, thanks to their work.
As Rahmet explains, “The Hamlin College of Midwives’ goal is to eradicate obstetric fistula by deploying those trained midwives into the community. So, those trained midwives start by changing the community’s attitudes and the beliefs about the health care system that make them choose to have the delivery by themselves.”
Rahmet is ready to make a difference
In the final year of her degree, Rahmet spent three months attending practical clinical placements, while also learning about mental health care in midwifery practice, health service management and understanding ultrasound. While she was on this placement, Rahmet saw the impact of Hamlin Midwives firsthand: “During my spring placement there were no fistula cases,” she recalls.
Rahmet is a young woman determined to use her degree to help eradicate obstetric fistula in her community. After completing their degrees, Hamlin Midwives are deployed to a Hamlin-supported midwifery clinic near their hometown. Rahmet is looking forward to returning to work in her community near Metu in the Oromia region of Ethiopia.
When asked what she was most looking forward to after graduating, Rahmet exclaimed “First off, that I graduate from the Hamlin College of Midwives!” She went on to explain that she was looking forward to working in the community. “When I am working, I will serve my community’s way with kind, respectful and compassionate care. Also, I will update myself by reading and by studying hard. And, after I finish the four years [working as a Hamlin Midwife], I will update myself by studying the master’s degree,” Rahmet explains.
Rahmet’s education at the Hamlin College of Midwives was made possible thanks to the generosity of Hamlin supporters. Will you help Rahmet and other Hamlin Midwives prevent fistula injuries? Click here to donate.