Midwife back at Port Vila
Eighteen months after first volunteering as a midwife in Vanuatu, Lynette Atkins is back at Port Vila Hospital for another 18 days. Nicola Stewart caught up with her before she left.
Helping to bring babies into the world with only the most basic medical equipment was an invaluable learning experience for midwife Lynette Atkins.
So much so, that when an opportunity to return to Port Vila Hospital in Vanuatu came up, she wanted to share the experience.
Third- year Wintec student Chantelle van Waveren has been on work placement with Miss Atkins at Pohlen Hospital since December and last Wednesday flew to Vanuatu with her.
‘‘It’s going to be obviously very different from anything she’s ever experienced as a student,’’ Miss Atkins told the Chronicle last week.
‘‘ I wanted to show her what it’s like, just to open her eyes to how fantastic the care we provide in New Zealand is.
‘‘ When I went the last time, it made me realise how lucky we are here.’’
Miss Atkins spent three weeks in the Port Vila maternity ward in October 2011 and felt compelled to go back.
‘‘It’s like that travel bug, once you go, you just want to go again and again.
‘‘I enjoyed myself last time, though it was hard with the loss of babies and things like that, it’s something I have always wanted to do.’’
Conditions at the hospital were far from what she was used to, with no hot water or clean sheets and up to 18 babies born each day.
During labour the women were given no pain relief and there was very little medical intervention, she said.
Most of the mothers had no pre-natal care and stayed in hospital for less than 24 hours after giving birth.
Miss van Waveren said she was looking forward to experiencing another country’s way of birth.
‘‘I’m very excited. I think it’s going to be something that will stick with me forever,’’ she said.
‘‘It will be a highlight of my training and my midwife career as well.’’
With very limited staff at the hospital, midwives from all over the world are encouraged to volunteer, Miss Atkins said.
‘‘They only have two midwives and a doctor on duty during the day and one midwife at night so volunteers make a huge difference.
‘‘The team over there is fantastic and so happy to have us.’’
Pohlen Hospital was supportive of Miss Atkins’ volunteer work and had donated a breast pump for her to take with her.
Miss van Waveren said she was grateful for the opportunity to go along.
‘‘I’m very thankful to Lynette for taking me for that opportunity. It’s something we have been planning and talking about for a long time,’’ she said.
‘‘ I am nervous – I think there’d be something wrong if I wasn’t. As much as I have heard about it, it’s still going into the unknown. But mostly, it’s exciting.’’
Helping hands: Midwifery student Chantelle van Waveren and Pohlen Hospital midwife Lynette Atkins are volunteering at Port Vila Hospital in Vanuatu.