Midwives Matter for Liberia

Daisy WinnerBlog, Featured, Liberia, Midwifery

In Liberia, 44 percent of women give birth at home without a skilled birth attendant. Without the support of a trained professional, women die every day from preventable causes related to pregnancy and child birth. Midwives are essential partners in stopping these unnecessary deaths, as they play an instrumental role in ensuring skilled care for mom and baby during pregnancy, childbirth, and in the important first days and weeks after birth.

Seed Global Health has supported midwifery in Liberia since 2015, placing volunteer midwifery educators at partner institutions to work alongside local educators in teaching and training the next generation of midwives in the country. We pair skilled, volunteer faculty – like Nicole Geller, who has spent the last two years empowering midwifery students through clinical education –  with local midwives, teaching and working together so that mothers throughout communities can benefit.

This year, to further strengthen midwifery care and education in the country, Seed Global Health is partnering to pilot an innovative leadership-level professional role in Liberia. The Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS), which was previously also piloted by Seed in Malawi, is a unique role that places a clinical expert to teach and work at the bedside alongside a dedicated Liberian midwife fellow. The CNS brings expertise in clinical judgment, technical skills, and use of clinical evidence to drive midwifery care. She will also learn from the Liberian midwife the challenges facing the profession, and together they will develop effective and supportive ways to address the issues mothers face in pregnancy and birth.

One limiting factor in Liberia has been traditionally low support midwives’ clinical skills, learning by observation rather than having specific opportunity to develop advanced clinical skills – and confidence in own practice.

So, this year, Robyn Churchill, a longtime supporter of Seed, took it upon herself to build the support for the Liberian Midwife Fellow. With the assistance of Seed Global Health, Robyn built a small crowdsourced fundraising campaign to raise money for the salary of a Liberian midwife to work in a Liberian hospital as a clinical midwifery fellow under the guidance of the Clinical Nurse Specialist.

Robyn’s campaign ended earlier this month, and raised more than $20,000 to fund a midwife fellow in Liberia. With this support, Seed can implement a formal, year-long, clinical fellowship for a rigorously-selected Liberian midwife, supporting her to improve essential clinical management and leadership skills. These skills not only matter greatly in delivering care, but also empower the midwife to greater leadership opportunities, such as the ability to direct a midwife-led labor ward where she could also serve as the clinical resource to the other midwives.

Robyn is one dedicated, engaged community member. But her efforts will now help empower many midwives in Liberia, because by supporting the training, teaching, and empowerment of even just one midwife, many, many women and babies across the country will ultimately benefit from “the ripple effect” created when a skilled health workers provides quality care to a community. A midwife in Liberia will now be better prepared to serve as an educator and increase the number of skilled midwives in the country – and moms and babies will now be healthier, happier, and have greater opportunity in life.

It is incredible to see how one person’s passion and dedication garnered so much support! Now is the time to act – follow Robyn’s lead and rally your community to help train health workers so they can give the gift of greater health to their communities.  Please reach out to the Development Team at Seed – we’re ready to help you help others today. Whether it is a holiday, birthday, workplace, or school campaign, we at Seed are happy to help – and so grateful for your action and support.