With one in seven women dying in childbirth in rural Papua New Guinea, YWAM Medical Ships was fortunate to have a mid-wife on the first Outreach. Debbie Butters was able to experience the full range of heartache in loss to the joy of having a healthy baby named after her. No matter what the circumstances, she was kept very busy in her role. She was able to help bring life, echoing YWAM MSA’s motto, “I want to live.”
Reasons birthing death rates are so high is usually due to haemorrhage and infection. Debbie was able to reduce these risks significantly during check-ups. She gave out iron tablets, malaria treatment and mosquito nets. Education sessions with the traditional birth attendants also focused on keeping down the risks. She also handed out birthing kits to health care workers to help create a clean environment for mother and child.
Unfortunately, abuse can be another heart-breaking factor. A few days prior to YWAM MSA being in Gigori village, a six-month-pregnant woman was beat up and kicked. She went into early labour in the health care clinic. The baby was a stillbirth. With YWAM MSA there, however, the mother was able to safely give birth and was given correct support, medication, and education for future pregnancies.
Despite the some harsh realities in midwifery, Debbie experienced more life and joy than loss. Her highlight was caring for a woman in Karati, Lisa. She was in a long labour at the Health Care Centre as Debbie stepped in, helping deliver a healthy girl. A few days later, she was able to see the baby again, giving immunizations against TB and Hepatitis B. “I have been a midwife for 30 years,” she said, “but, wow, this is the first time a family has ever insisted on naming their baby after me. It brings a smile to my face when I think that there is a little girl in remote PNG called Debbie, and I hope to meet her again one day.”