City University London 2020

Midwifery, Zambia Lusaka

Work the World offer a range of destinations, but I knew Zambia was the place for me. I felt it was a place where I could develop my skills as a qualified midwife. 

My two weeks spent in Zambia were emotionally challenging, yet an experience I will never forget.

Courtnie-Rae Toms (TOMS24884)

I remember stepping onto the labour ward and being very overwhelmed. There were minimal resources and staff in comparison to the number of women seen on the labour ward daily. But the team managed well.

The strength of the Zambian women stood out to me the most. They gave birth in a completely open ward which had broken windows. They were occasionally covered by curtains to provide some dignity and were often unsupported due to the midwives having up to three labouring women to care for.

Courtnie-Rae Toms (TOMS24884)I often found myself just holding the labouring women’s hand, as seeing them alone whilst in pain was heartbreaking to see. They were always so grateful for this and would thank me for doing something so little! 

Regardless of having no pain relief available, the women would cope just fine. I would often see them clicking their fingers, slapping their bodies and humming as a coping mechanism – giving birth was made to look easy! 

It was inspiring to see how hard the staff in Zambia worked to provide care, despite how little they had available.

Back home, we have one-to-one labour care where women have their own room and bathroom, and everything to hand when needed. It was inspiring to see how hard the staff in Zambia worked to provide care, despite how little they had available.

Courtnie-Rae Toms (TOMS24884)The doctors, midwives and students were so intrigued to hear how our healthcare system worked back home. Some even expressed an interest to work in the UK when I explained how privileged we were to have such good working conditions in comparison.

My most memorable case was assisting with the delivery of a beautiful baby girl. Her mother wanted to take photos of me and her baby to show her family and was so thankful for the care I’d given her.

Our evenings were spent exploring Lusaka. We went to the local shops, markets, bars and BBQs with traditional African food and African dancing. 

I’d recommend going to ‘sip and paint’. It was so therapeutic after a day in the hospital. Chilling out and painting whilst getting to know the friends I’d made in the Work the World house was special.

Courtnie-Rae Toms (TOMS24884)When we didn’t feel like going out, we would just lay by the pool debriefing about our day.

I spent my weekend off in Livingstone. Here, I experienced a rhino safari, a game drive, a booze cruise along the river Zambezi, and the astonishing views of Victoria Falls. 

The best part was the Devil’s Pool - swimming to the edge of Victoria Falls and being held over the edge of the waterfall was an experience I will never forget (and not something for the faint-hearted)!

The support from the in-country team in Zambia was second to none. From the moment I was picked up from the airport, I felt instantly welcomed! You’re very well looked after by the in-country team especially.

Zambia is a place I will always hold in my heart. I will cherish the memories and carry this unforgettable experience with me forever. I will 100% go back to Africa!   

Courtnie-Rae Toms (TOMS24884)

I would recommend every student midwife to do this if they can. The experience is eye-opening and makes you realise how lucky we are to work in such a good environment and have the resources that we have here in the UK.

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