Six of us nursing students were excited to hear that we all got our first choice placement in the Tamale Teaching Hospital on the Labour and Delivery ward. We spent a total of four days on the ward, observing, learning, and helping with the deliveries as well as monitoring mothers pre- and post-partum. We weren’t sure what to expect when arriving on the L&D floor, except we knew it would be nothing like what we had seen in Canada. We were impressed with the size of the Tamale Teaching Hospital, and felt very welcome by all of the staff on the L&D ward. We wasted no time jumping in and involving ourselves in the deliveries and with the care of the women and babies. We spent time collaborating with the doctors, midwives, and nursing students, as they have the most active roles on the floor. Each student had the opportunity to work with the midwives through several deliveries. We were also able to observe a couple of C-sections, for twins and for triplets. The triplets were conceived via IVF which we all found surprising since the average Ghanaian woman gives birth to 7 children (in comparison to 1.5 in Canada). We learned about many differences between delivery practices through observation and through talking with some local 3rd year nursing students.
Here are some of the comparisons between Ghanaian deliveries and Canadian deliveries:
1. In the hospital, it’s the midwives who deliver babies instead of doctors, whereas in Canadian hospitals it is almost always doctors.
2. The delivery room consists of 9 labour beds with no curtain, in comparison to individual rooms.
3. No family was present for any of the deliveries that we witnessed, in comparison to partners and families being present in Canada.
5. Lack of supplies was very apparent, but we found the midwives and nurses to be extremely innovative and resourceful with the supplies that they did have.
6. We noticed the women were more stoic and quiet during their contractions and labour, and received less pain medications and no epidurals.
7. Often due to ultrasound unavailability, the mothers are unaware of how many babies they are delivering until first baby is delivered and the second baby’s head is visible (we were able to witness this).
We were very inspired and in awe by the strength and resilience of the women in labour, and the healthcare team that helped them along the way. It has been an incredible experience being able to collaborate with the Ghanaian nurses and midwives to provide the personal touch and relational practice we have learned throughout our nursing program. In turn, the Ghanaian healthcare team showed us how to be resourceful and innovative.
Posted by: Mikaela Noble, Kenya Mokoena, Danielle DeYagher, Rebecca Ellis, Carmen Morgan, Kelsey Bellerive