PARENTS

'My Midwife' Photos Capture The Beautiful Bonds Formed By Mums And Midwives Around The World

WaterAid wants to ensure all healthcare facilities have access to clean water.

14/06/2017 17:52 BST

A beautiful photo series captures new mums and the midwives who assisted them in an emotional moment of shared joy. 

The photos, taken in the hours after the mothers gave birth, are part of a touching new ‘My Midwife’ interview series by international development organisation WaterAid, which highlights the different experiences of women around the world.

Yet, whether the women delivered in state-of-the-art hospitals or in healthcare centres without clean water, all shared a great appreciation for the midwives who helped bring their babies into the world.

WaterAid/ Al Shahriar Rupam

In 2015, 2,100 newborns died every day from sepsis, tetanus, pneumonia or diarrhoea – all infections strongly linked to unhygienic conditions, according to WaterAid.

The charity wants to ensure healthcare facilities everywhere have access to clean water and have adequate toilets and are committed to good hygiene practice. 

The WaterAid team met mothers and midwives from the UK, Canada, Malawi, Tanzania, Rwanda and Bangladesh. Scroll down to read their stories:  

  • Midwife Bimola Kobiraz delivers newborn baby to mother, Hera, in Bangladesh.
    WaterAid/ Al Shahriar Rupam
    Hera, 20, spoke after giving birth to a baby boy earlier that morning at Dacope Upazila Health Complex.

    "I used to go to the health complex for check-ups once every two months," she said.

    "Sometimes I called midwife to come to me at home if I had difficulties.

    "The hospital is safe and healthy. All the nurses and doctors were wearing gloves and clean dresses. Now the toilet I am using is clean, which is good. The labour room and midwife hands were clean enough. The midwife also used sterilising equipment during delivery.

    "The midwife helped in several ways during the birth and afterwards - she gave me saline, medicines in time, she helped me to lie on bed and took care of my baby.

    "She gave me emotional support during birth and afterwards. She helped me to change clothes and take medicines. I am very thankful for the midwife being there at hospital."
  • WaterAid/ Al Shahriar Rupam
    Bimola Kobiraz, 29, has worked at Dacope Upazila Health Complex for six months and estimates she has delivered 30 babies.

    "When I started working here there was a poor supply of clean water and also there was no well-conditioned toilet," she said.

    "So patients suffered a lot from not being able to drink clean water and use a clean toilet.

    "But now toilets are improved from poor hygiene and also we have a supply of clean water, which was not possible without the help of WaterAid.

    "The new facilities have made doing my job easier. It was tough to work in a health complex without water and decent toilets.

    "I hope for mother and baby a healthy life."
  • Midwife Parboti Rani Dhali holds the baby son of Shokla Mondol, 19, in Bangladesh.
    WaterAid/ Al Shahriar Rupam
    First-time mother, Shokla Mondol, 19, gave birth at at Dacope Upazila Health Complex, Chalna, Dacope, Khulna, Bangladesh.  

    "From the first month of pregnancy I was in contact with the Upazila Health Complex," she said.

    "I did my regular check-ups along with my mother. The doctor used to tell me how to prepare: that I should save money, buy fresh clothes for me and baby. Also the doctor told me to keep away from heavy jobs.

    "I took precautions all the time, I never missed any check-up and took my food regularly following a diet as told by the doctor.

    "When I entered the labour room, I saw all the nurses wearing nice white coats and gloves. The room and its environment looked safe. I heard all the instruments were sterilised, also the bed and room seemed clean. So it was a good experience for me to give birth to my first child in this hospital.

    "I can't imagine giving birth to my baby in another place, without enough water and good hygiene.

    "Parboti is very responsible. I am lucky to be under her. Because of her I didn't have any difficulties and my stay at this hospital so far is great.

    "Parboti helped me to bring my child into this world. From then till now she is looking after me and my child regularly with great care. She told me how to feed my boy, what to do when he cries and many other things.

    "I am really grateful to Parboti for her support and care."
  • WaterAid/ Al Shahriar Rupam
    Parboti Rani Dhali, 45, has been a midwife for more than 20 years and estimates she has delivered more than 300 babies.

    "We had a real water problem before," she said.

    "The toilets weren't good and all the people suffered from poor sanitation and poor hygiene.

    "Now the water problem is gone so patients and hospital staff all are getting the benefits.

    "There is a latrine for new mothers which is hygienic, but the toilet in the labour room is still in poor condition. Also we have limitations with sterilisation. Otherwise the new water supply and toilets have improved our environment a lot.

    "With Shokla's childbirth, there was no complications except the limitations with our labour room equipment.

    "Shokla is a strong woman and she cooperated with us very smartly. She and her baby is in perfect shape.

    "I hope both mother and baby will be fine and healthy.

    "I hope that I will guard my good reputation throughout my career and that also I will serve mothers and babies with good care."
  • Midwife Daniel Paulo carrying six-day-old Jafary, with mother Sada Juma Njuki, in Tanzania.
    WaterAid/ James Kiyimba
    Sada Juma Njuki, 26, a new mother who has delivered at Kiomboi District Hospital, Iramba District, Tanzania, said:

    "Although I have had complications with this pregnancy, the nurses have been very supportive. Everyone looks motivated and happy to help.

    "If I had gone to a small health centre near my home, I would not have managed to deliver my baby."
  • WaterAid/ Anna Kari
    Nurse midwife Daniel Paulo, 26, pictured at work in his ward for women who had caesarians or who have been admitted with complications pre- and post-partum. Kiomboi District Hospital, Kiomboi, Tanzania.

    "Personally, when I think of a baby getting sick it is really paining me because all I can think of is if it were me during that time, if I had got sick, I could not be here today," he said.

    "I chose to be a midwife so that I can help woman who are pregnant, women who are breastfeeding and also the newborns. I believe that if I help these women, they are a big help to the nation."
  • Nurse midwife Samuel Nshimyumukita with Ruth Nyirahabimana and her baby, Uwamahoro Emeline, in Rwanda.
    WaterAid/ Behailu Shiferaw
    Ruth Nyirahabimana, 24, just delivered her second baby at Nzangwa Health Centre, Kintambwe, Rweru, Bugesera, Rwanda.

    "I am very happy. I gave birth yesterday, at 2pm," said Nyirahabimana.

    "She is not even one day old. I can't wait to go and see how the older sister reacts when she sees her.

    "This time I didn't prepare much. You know how it is. The first time, it's your miracle. The excitement is so much that you prepare everything, you save money and decorate the house, you buy clothes for the baby, you prepare food for celebrations etc. The second time, it kind of wears off and you will be more pragmatic about what you spend.

    "Since this was my second, it was not as scary as it was the first time around. [Then] it was a different time. Four years ago, I would need to fetch water from the lake whether I was pregnant or not. Or you would buy it.

    "So the pregnancy process was different to this one when I could literally walk to the water kiosks, which are a few minutes away, and get my water. It made life easy. That's the general change.

    "A friend of mine gave birth here in the summer and we brought a jerrycan of water with us when she came here to deliver. We used half of it and we took the other half home when we were done here. That's how precious the water was. There is water in the health centre now. It's not necessary [to bring it].

    "[The midwife] is a very kind man. He talked to me, he calmed me down. I was in the waiting room, waiting for the real labour to kick in, and he would frequently walk and check in on me.

    "He told me the kinds of symptoms I should look out for and that I should call him if necessary. He taught me about the steps of the birthing process.

    "I trusted that he cared for me. From how much he cared, I was convinced everything was going to be okay.

    "I saw him cutting the umbilical cord. He walked me to the waiting room after the delivery. He cleaned up my baby himself. He was there through the whole process.

    "A lot of pregnant women deliver every day. The delivery room needs to be cleaned after every birth. Midwives would not have been able to clean a delivery room without enough water.

    "So having water is very important for the midwives to do their job well."
  • WaterAid/ Behailu Shiferaw
    Nurse midwife Samuel Nshimyumukiza, 30, has been working for a few years but only arrived at Nzangwa Health Centre two months ago.

    "I just love my job," he said.

    "Seeing a mother who is in pain and then you help her to deliver and you take the baby and give it to her and you see her happy to be holding it in her arms, I think that's an amazing thing to behold.

    "I feel like I am happier than the mother herself at that moment. A mother delivers one baby today and maybe it would be another year or so before she feels that happy again.

    "I see three to seven babies being born every day. I go home tired, but really satisfied in what I have done.

    "I have been a nurse for a few years now, but I have been at Nzangwa Health Centre for only a month or two.

    "None of the previous health centres I worked for had water because they were in the villages. It's simply not easy to not have water in the delivery room.

    "It starts from the midwife washing his hands before and after procedure and between helping two mothers.

    "Like the clinics I worked at in the past, I heard mothers were obliged to carry their own water. It's not acceptable to ask people to bring water to a health centre.

    "Now we have clean water that we can wash with, but also the mothers can wash before they go home. It makes our practice not only easier, but also safer for us and for the mothers we help.

    "I hope that the children will be vaccinated and grow up healthy."
  • Nurse midwife Kennifer Samu with new mum Ruth Anderson in Malawi.
    WaterAid/ Dennis Lupenga
    Ruth Anderson, 19, mother of one child, gave birth in Ngokwe Health Centre, Machinga, Malawi.

    "When I was coming here, I brought with me three Chitenje fabrics of which one is used to cover the baby and the other two are used during and after giving birth for cleaning myself," she said.

    "I also brought with me a plastic foil used during birth to hold the water and blood to keep the bed clean as the ward only has two beds. Also, I brought a basin, which is used for bathing and in my case it was used to carry urine as I was not able to move after giving birth.

    "The hospital doesn't have enough toilets and bathrooms. Yesterday when I was having contractions, I visited one of the toilets and they were all occupied. I ended up visiting the nearest bush to relieve myself. It was scary but I couldn't hold it. A lot of women do that as well.

    "Worst still, when I had given birth, I had to use the basin I brought to defecate and my mother had to get rid of the waste. I felt so sad. My dignity was lost as there were other women in the maternity ward who saw what happened.

    "Despite facing all these challenges, I was happy to have received the best care from our nurse midwife. She was very helpful all the time. She would come to simply check mine and my baby's pulse and temperature."
  • WaterAid/ Dennis Lupenga
    Kennifer Samu, 26, has been working at Ngokwe Health Centre as a nurse midwife for the past three years.

    "We have no tap water so we usually draw water from a nearby borehole, which is quite tedious," she explained.

    "The government installed water tanks that harvest rain water but during the dry season, all the water tanks are empty.

    "In the maternity ward, we have two water buckets but sometimes they get dry, which causes some problems. We try our best to keep the water buckets full all of the time.

    "We do not have bathrooms indoors. This means women who have given birth have to walk outside the ward and clean themselves.

    "For those who have just given birth, they use their water basins for cleaning inside the ward, which impacts on their dignity.

    "In addition, the toilets intended for the patients are in bad shape as most of them are full. We have now allowed the patients to use the staff toilets, which is unhygienic for us due to the increase in the number of users.

    "As for the delivery process, we have had a lot of challenges. We normally have six to seven deliveries every day as this health centre supports many surrounding villages.

    "This means that within a day, all six pregnant women have to use the only two beds our small maternity room has. We have had many cases where some women had to deliver on the floor due to lack of space.

    "We have a delivery pack, which has gloves, cord clamp, a pair of scissors, chlorine, and other items. We do our best to help women deliver without getting any sort of infection close to them and the baby.

    "I wish we could have better sanitation and hygiene facilities; I would enjoy my job more."
  • Colleen with her newborn baby Soraia and midwife Joanne Yan in Canada.
    WaterAid/ Danielle Donders of Mothership Photography
    First-time mother Colleen gave birth at home; she is pictured at the Ottawa Birth and Wellness Centre, in Canada, for a checkup with her new baby daughter.

    "I think I was too busy to even prepare mentally for the birth," said Colleen.

    "I was trying so hard to get everything done before the due date and she came a week early. But I managed to get the important things done, and then she came.

    "I found Joanne and she had availability, which was amazing. I knew her medical background was very advanced. I had a lot of trust in her. So she was the first person on my birth team that I chose.

    "After that I got a photographer, a doula and we bought a house. When we bought the house I envisioned where the birth would take place. So everything came together in the end.

    "I'm a clean person and my doula - it's so funny - she wanted to make sure that everybody in the room knew I'm a clean person. So made sure we lay out a lot of towels and clean water.

    "I rented a birth pool. So of course the water that goes into the birth pool has to be clean as well. I was too relaxed in the pool so they had to pull me out.

    "My midwife's medical background put me at ease. I was confident in her skills and her abilities. But also, her demeanour and the way she talks.

    "She's so gentle with everybody. So compassionate. But when it was crunch time, she wasn't soft then."
  • Midwife Helen Faux and new mother Rebekah Mclaughlin with one-day-old baby James in England.
    WaterAid/ Anna Kari
    First time mum Rebekah Mclaughlin, 23, delivered her baby James Brian through a caesarean-section at Liverpool Women's Hospital.

    "The first 24 hours of being a mum have been good, it's been a learning curve as first time parents, but it's been fab," said Mclaughlin.

    "I had an emergency C-section. I was overdue, I was seven centimetres dilated and he'd stopped moving so the doctor thought it was best to have a C-section.

    "It was quite a lengthy process but apart from that it was alright. We had regular check-ups here with different doctors.

    "The midwives go through everything in the pre-natal check-ups, breastfeeding, bottle-feeding, changing nappies, bathing, they go through lots of different ways they can sleep, and give you the pros and cons of everything to help you prepare.

    "Then when you put it into play you remember, my midwife taught me that.

    "The midwives have all been brilliant, they've been really supportive, they gave me the best advice about what's going to be best for the baby.

    "They went through all the stages with me, you know what happens when we get to this stage, what happens at this stage. Everyone was really informative and looked after me.

    "If I didn't have the midwives supporting me I would probably have been an emotional wreck. I would probably have broken down, but the midwives kept me going and they helped me get through, because it was really difficult when it came to giving birth to him.

    "Helen's been around this morning doing observations, checking on the baby. She's got so many patients on this ward, she's got loads to go through, so she's done so much in such a short space of time. She's lovely.

    "I can't imagine what it would be like delivering in a hospital without running water. Everyone should have the right to basic things, without that you take away your dignity.

    "It puts a pain in my heart a little bit to think that things aren't perfect for those women.

    "James can have a bath today and we'll be going home today. Hope and dreams for the future? As long as he does something which makes him happy, that's fine by me."
  • WaterAid/ Anna Kari
    Helen Faux, 46, has been a midwife for four and half years at the Liverpool Women's hospital, and has helped deliver 150 babies.

    Part of her training involved travelling to Tanzania to help deliver babies in a rural hospital in Arusha, which gave her insight into what it's like for mums and midwives who lack access to basic things like soap and clean sheets.

    "You use water everyday in my job. If we didn't have it in this hospital we'd probably have to shut down," she explained.

    "There would be outrage, we'd be turning away mums. Soap and water are the first line of defence against infections. We use it for everything, from taking blood, to washing our hands during invasive procedures, and things like filling the birthing pool for mums who want pain relief during labour.

    "Aside from the normal routine things, it's about providing emotional support to the women too.

    "For example, first time mums often need a lot more support than mums who've done it before. But each baby and each person is different on this ward."