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The Gambia
Gambia mother and child
At present SOS Children's Villages supports over 23,000 people in The Gambia through 2 Children’s Villages, a youth home, 2 Nursery Schools, 2 primary schools, an SOS Vocational Training Centre, a Family Strengthening Programme and a Medical Centre. … more about our charity work in The Gambia

A morning with Mariama, a midwife at SOS Clinic Bakoteh

Mariama with one of her deliveries
Mariama with one of her deliveries

In The Gambia, facilities for professionally assisted births are rare. To help to reduce maternal and infant mortality, SOS Children set up a maternity ward at the SOS Clinic in Bakoteh nearly two years ago. Mariama is one of the midwifes at the hospital.

The maternity ward of the SOS Clinic in Bakoteh provides hundreds of local women with quality pre-and post-natal care. With more than 14 years of experience, Mariama has worked in very poor and difficult conditions to deliver babies safely. She knows that the Bakoteh clinic is one of the top facilities in the country. "We are one of the best equipped clinic for deliveries", says Mariama.

9:00 am.  Isatou, a Senegalese woman, arrives accompanied by her mother-in-law. She is in advanced labour and, as it is her second child, might deliver quickly. Both beds of the delivery room are free, so Mariama quickly settles her and checks her over.

9:45 am. Bintou, nearly at full term, comes in with her sister. She is in severe pain and hopes that she will give birth today. Unfortunately, her contractions are not linked to a beginning of labour. All Mariama can do is to give her something to help her to relax. "Some handle pain better", explains Mariama. "We cannot do much but give them some pills to help them relax. Here, there is no epidural. But African women are very strong!"

11:00 am. Isatou delivers a very healthy baby girl. Once Mariama makes sure everything is fine with the baby, she returns to Isatou who needs some stitching.

11:45 am. Just has Mariama finishes her post-delivery care, the cleaner comes to inform her that a woman has just arrived with her new-born baby. She did not make it in time to the maternity ward, and delivered in the taxi. "This happens regularly" explains Mariama, "women here often wait until the last minute to come. It can create some complications, but in this case, it both the mother and the baby look fine".

The new-born baby boy is in good health. Mariama checks over his mother to see whether she needs any post-delivery assistance. "Many women are unaware that they could need some stitching and proper post-delivery care in some cases. As very few of them come back once they have delivered, I usually prefer to give them some antibiotics to prevent post-delivery complications" she says.

Soon, both mothers are transferred to the post-natal area, where they will stay up to 24 hours if they want to. In many other community clinics, women and their babies are discharged just a few hours after birth.

Mariama sorts out the delivery room and pre-washes her materials before sending them for sterilisation. She then helps another pregnant woman to settle in the labour room, before checking on Bintou, still in contractions.

1:15 pm. Mariana can now enjoy a bit of quite time, as she fills in the birth registry for the new-borns and their mothers.

1:30 pm. The second shift arrives. After paying everyone a last visit, Mariama briefs her colleagues about her morning’s activities.

Mariama can now go home and have a well deserved rest, knowing that she contributes to reducing maternal and infant mortality everyday. Find out more about the medical services we provide for hundreds of thousands of people around the world in a special edition of Family Matters.