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.

Matamata Chronicle - - News -

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.

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