Chapter 24: Getting medical help
Getting to a medical center
A woman with a serious health problem, or at risk for one, needs medical help
right away. When a woman is in danger, her family or her midwife may believe
there is no hope. This is not true. Getting medical help fast can save a
For village women, the closest medical center might be
days away. Some women take buses or walk for miles to
get medical help. Even women who live close to a hospital
may not get there because of lack of money or
transportation. Together with each family and with the
whole community, plan how you can bring a woman to medical help before there
is an emergency. See page 106 for ideas about making a transport plan.
Decide quickly to get help
If you see a risk sign at any time, do not wait. If you can treat the problem at
home, do so quickly. If you cannot treat it yourself, or if you have been trying to
treat a problem that is not getting better — it is time to get medical help!
The more quickly you get help, the better able the health workers at the medical
center or hospital will be to help the woman and her baby.
Working with medical centers and doctors
Midwives, nurses, doctors, and other health workers must all work together for the
health of women and families.
Midwives need medical centers and doctors. When a
woman is having a medical emergency, a wise midwife
knows that a medical center is probably the best place
for her to be.
That woman certainly
bled a lot after the
birth. It is good that
you brought her to
Sadly, many doctors do not realize how
much they need midwives. Doctors are trained
to look for emergencies, and many treat every
birth as an emergency. But midwives are experts
on normal, healthy birth. They often have more
of the patience and trust that a woman in labor
needs to give birth. Many midwives know how
to use plant medicines, how to use massage, how
to turn a baby safely, or have other knowledge that is
not taught in medical schools.
I’m so glad you
are here to help.
I was afraid she
was going to die!
Doctors may not appreciate a midwife’s special
skills. Traditional midwives in particular may be looked down on and considered
uneducated or not competent. It can be very difficult for a midwife to work with a
medical center for the good of pregnant women.
A Book for Midwives (2010)