September 07


An unexpected delivery – Day 3 Episode 4

This morning we set off at 6am for Maitum, the smallest and a second class (poorer) municipality in Serangani in the South of Mindanao. Municipalities are divided into income classes according to their average annual income during the previous four calendar years.

Our first stop was at Maitum Municipal Hall to meet with the Municipal Nutrition Action Officer. We had time afterwards to look at some of the treasures of Maitum – the Philippines has a fascinating ancient history.


Replicas of ancient burial jars and artefacts from prehistoric civilisation on display at the Municipal Hall


We checked in briefly at the Rural Health Unit in Maitum and met with Rosalina Roxas, their senior midwife who informs us they are on track for the MDG targets 4&5. With around 50-60 births a month, around 20% are adolescent deliveries.

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The midwives’ bikes…


One of the discussions we were having was about the need for a half way house from the mountains to the birthing facility for mothers who are experiencing the first signs of labour . A timely conversation as it turned out….


We arrived at the Maguling Health Center and Birthing home.


Do not move!

The only place you can get a phone signal is from this drip stand at the front entrance. The midwives travel out on bikes to give immunisations or use the emergency vehicle (aka the midwife’s red car) when needed to take women to the hospital.










Midwife returning from immunisations...and with a bag of Rambutan - a hairy red fruit I can never get into.

Midwife returning from immunisations…and with a bag of Rambutan – a hairy red fruit I can never get into.


What struck me immediately was how warm this facility was…not just the temperature 🙂

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I was able to interview another pregnant woman about the birth plan which yielded some great information and feedback and we were also able to go through the variety of paperwork, log books and forms that needed to be completed. As we were discussing these with the staff, a young pregnant women (17 yrs old) arrived with some friends. The midwife ushered her into the delivery room. She was about to give birth and I was invited to observe.

I got my crocs, hairnet and facemask on just in time to see the baby pop out like a bar of soap. It was quite a moment! Rosalina was on hand to help the other midwife – they had noticed the bump ‘didn’t look quite right’ when she came in and suspected it was preterm. She was quite right; this baby girl was born at 27 weeks.


It was a relief to hear her cry. She weighed only 1.8kgs and was then attended to by the midwife. She was kept warm under a lamp and her airway needed clearing with suction – she was grunting due to her underdeveloped lungs. The midwife attached some oxygen….and this is all she can do with the basic equipment she has at her disposal. Although the midwife is trained for emergency delivery, it doesn’t equip her to manage preterm delivery or complications. She did an amazing job in giving this baby a fighting chance.


What an unexpected start to the day –  to actually see in realtime the situation in the field. I don’t know how this little one will do but already its a tough start to life for her.


 The midwife and Barangay Health Workers…a great team


Next stop…a fisher folk’s tale – Speak soon, Alli 🙂