“[…] The workload has become much heavier since the lockdown. We are now experiencing the backlash of the pandemic lockdown from last year—an increase in deliveries tripling the usual birth rate!
“Normally for the first half of the year, the birth rate usually reduces, but for this year it has extensively increased…”
Wired868 highlights the day-to-day lives of everyday Trinbagonians in our ongoing series entitled: ‘A day in the life…’ Today, we speak with a midwife:
How long have you been employed as a midwife?
I have been working at a public hospital for about 20 years as a nurse but as a midwife for the past five years.
Tell me about some of your work duties on a daily basis?
At the moment, I’m on the post-natal ward and my responsibilities relate to caring for the new mother and baby after childbirth. For those who have vaginal delivery, I have to ensure that the uterus contracts and there is no excessive haemorrhaging. There’s also monitoring the process of the newborn’s breast-feeding and respiration rate.
In the case of a mother with a caesarean, a little observation is placed on her to ensure that, a few hours after delivery, there are returned feelings from the waist down, that there are no blood clots or infections, and that we administer the necessary medications. For each mom, this care and monitoring usually lasts for 24 hours before the patient is discharged.
How do you manage with such a workload?
It is a lot but over the years it became routine, like a checklist. You know what’s next and what you are looking for. For me, it’s something I love doing. I enjoy seeing the joy on my patient’s face after everything. Caring for others comes naturally for me. I take pride in my job, so work is not a burden for me.
What is the most challenging aspect about your job?
What is challenging about my job for me is that, on a normal basis, we would have a time-frame where the work would have been a little less and we could have caught our breath and relaxed. Now, with the Covid restrictions, added insulated sections for pregnant women with Covid and the influx of Venezuelan immigrants, there’s a great increase in the birth rate causing significant pressure on the already short-staffed system.
How many hours are you required to work daily?
We are required to work eight hours for the day and evening shift but 10 hours for the night shift. Since the Covid and the implementation of the SOE, the night shift is required to work 12 hours or more to take account of the curfew. Persons with personal vehicles have a pass but persons who use public transportation or may have someone coming for them were not granted a pass. So in order to ensure there is not a breach of the curfew, the nurses just work the extra time to cover that period of the curfew.
What are some of the memorable on-the-job moments you have had?
For me, my memorable moments are dealing with patients who are not just cooperative but happy and appreciative of what we do—because we try to give our best and the love that is needed. Knowing some people can’t handle pain well, I try to be with them regardless of who the patient is. Sometimes I’d go the extra mile and look after the baby for a while to give mommy a break to have some rest, especially for the hypertensive mom who really needs that rest.
Are you affected by the curfew?
Yessss! As much as I have a curfew pass at the moment, my vehicle is not working; so on my night shifts, I have to work the extra hours until it’s safe to travel home without breaching the curfew.
The workload has become much heavier since the lockdown. We are now experiencing the backlash of the pandemic lockdown from last year—an increase in deliveries tripling the usual birth rate! Normally for the first half of the year, the birth rate usually reduces, but for this year it has extensively increased. The migration of the Venezuelan population also impacted on the increased rate of childbirth. There is also now the reality that we have to care for Covid-positive pregnant patients.
Personally, my household has been affected by the pandemic because my husband is home and not allowed to return to his job due to the implementation of the Covid protocols. My three children are also at home so, without a choice, I have become the breadwinner, which is strenuous. It puts me in a very tough position. All our savings used up but I am thankful for the job and glad to still have a monthly salary.
I have three children, two grandchildren and my husband who live with me. My eldest daughter is 27 years, my son is 24 years and my youngest daughter is 14 years. I have big children, the two eldest are the ones who have not been called back out to work since the Covid lockdown.
Are the nurses being compensated for the triple workload?
Well, last year we were given one day off as compensation but that’s it, nothing else.
Are there any measures in place at work to motivate workers?
Nope, no incentives, nothing. Besides loving what I do, I have a family who are dependent on me at the moment so I have to get up and come to work—that’s my motivation.
What advice would you give to the public to cope with life during the pandemic?
Follow the protocols, go out only if necessary and get back in. Treat everyone regardless of relation as a possible positive case and be protective of yourself by always wearing your mask and sanitising. Don’t let your guard down.
For the women, you could still have your fun if you wish but please keep in mind family-planning or use protection.
What’s your opinion on vaccination?
My thing is if you have to take it, you have to take it. I’m just still sceptical about it; that’s just my personal point of view.
For me, from my nursing point of view, if you get a vaccine for something, the same virus should not affect you again. So why is it we have ‘a vaccine’ and can still be infected with the same virus?
In the past, if there was a vaccine and one or two persons died from it, that vaccine would be pulled off the market… There are not enough facts and too much conflicting information out there.
Yes, I am very sceptical…
I will try to hold out as much as I can for my 14-year-old daughter until there’s more clarity but, for me, if eventually I have to take it, I will have to. I think that decision should be mine as a parent.
The Pfizer vaccine is now approved by the FDA for children 12 years and older. Does this change your view about having your daughter vaccinated?
If the Pfizer vaccine has been approved by the FDA, I believe that I have to accept it because approvals for all our products and medications that we are using have to come from the FDA. So if it’s approved by the FDA, I have to go with it because this is what we know ever since. I have no reason to doubt them.
Once the FDA gives the approval stamp on the vaccine, I will go along with it. She will have to be vaccinated but I believe I will get vaccinated first before she does. I don’t think it fair that I let her get vaccinated before I do.
This is an extremely important and well put together article, especially at this time when our health institutions are practically overwhelmed by the present Covid 19 pandemic.
All expected mothers and fathers should read this and have a better sense of where we are and what level of health care our hard working nurses provide while going beyond the call of duty because of the love for what they do.