Midwives hit the streets to offer antenatal care
Members of the St James chapter of the Jamaica Midwives Association took to the streets of Montego Bay last Thursday for a kind gesture. They offered hands-on antenatal care to pregnant women as their contribution to the celebration of International Day of the Midwives (IDM), celebrated May 5.
The more than 21 health professionals, whose primary responsibilities include providing primary care to women and their babies during pregnancy, labour, delivery and the postnatal period, hosted a health fair in Sam Sharpe Square, Montego Bay, providing services to scores of mothers.
"One of our aims is to identify pregnant women in their first trimester (first three months of pregnancy) and get them to start antenatal care during this period," said Charmaine Williams-Watson, a registered midwife assigned to the Montego Bay Type V Heath Centre.
According to Williams-Watson, many pregnant women sometimes wait until they are six to seven months' pregnant before going to seek antenatal care, unacceptable, given the delicate nature of babies and the complications that can occur without proper care.
While the expectant mothers were expertly cared for, those who were close to giving birth were given extra attention as they received special screening procedures to ensure they were on track for safe deliveries.
"We call it a booking process, and so we get their information, take their blood and send it off to their respective health centres in their communities," explained Grace Ann Reid, a registered midwife assigned to the St James Health Department.
"We have been seeing a good turnout of pregnant women and we have started booking a few," said Reid.
"They have also been doing their HIV testing, blood-pressure checks and blood-sugar testing," Reid added. "We are also using the opportunity to encourage new mothers to give their babies only breast milk for the first six months."
While the event was a St James Midwives Association project, midwives from Westmoreland, a tutor from the Cornwall School of Midwifery, and two senior public-health nurses also participated.
"By this venture, we hope to inform, educate and give general awareness on midwifery, the midwife and her roles and functions," said Marie Whittaker-Webb, registered midwife assigned to Adelphi Health Centre.