So, I have now officially spent my first week at the hospital. I spent Wednesday and Thursday morning at the antenatal clinic (prenatal clinic) at the hospital and let me just tell you – Benin City has A LOT of pregnant women! Between the two clinic days I’m sure we saw well over 100 women, maybe even 150. The clinic works kind of like an assembly line, since there are so many women, and it was kind of a shock to me since it seems very impersonal. The women get there early before morning devotions (which the hospital does every morning) and get a number, then they are called by their number for the rest of the day. First, their number is called for blood pressures (I’m really good at taking blood pressures manually now as I took almost every woman’s blood pressure). Then their number is called for their height and weight. And then their number is called for the nurses to check the baby’s size, position, and heart tones. After that they are sent for ultrasound or lab tests. All of this is done without ever calling them by name or giving them time to ask questions. In between blood pressures and checkups, one of the nurses gives a talk to the group at large about an educational topic and gives the women a chance to ask questions during this time.
I am wondering if the women coming to the clinic mind this kind of system since no one seems to be complaining or trying to ask lots of questions during the checkups. I don’t know whether they have just gotten used to the system or if they are scared to do something out of the ordinary. But there are so many opportunities for education in the prenatal setting and I think women are especially interested in their health while they are pregnant.
I will probably be at the clinic at least once a week so I’m hoping to understand more about what changes the women would appreciate. For now, I am just trying to not be afraid to do things differently myself, even if it is just greeting the women before I take their blood pressure.
All of that aside, it is exciting to be able to actually do prenatal assessments. I am getting better at figuring out the baby’s position. I have felt and seen a hand and a foot through a belly – so crazy! I have heard fetal heart tones with an old-fashioned fetoscope (basically a metal cone). And for all you medical people out there, I have felt a lot of funduses and am getting better at measuring fundal heights!
It’s exciting to remember that this is only my first week and that there are many more to come!