Sister Mandy Saambou, Leading Safe Choices Mentor in postpartum family planning, shares her experience of working in the Western Cape, South Africa.
I am one of the first Leading Safe Choices mentors in postpartum family planning.
I started at Mitchells Plain MOU, having worked there my entire life. For me, I knew that it was going to make a difference. I trained 9 midwives and 8 became competent within 6 weeks, and 3 became competent postpartum family planning counsellors.
Then I was sent to Mitchells Plain District Hospital where I didn’t know anybody. I thought to myself, I don’t know anyone here, how will the acceptance be? Well, it was amazing. I got 13 sisters to competency and 8 competent counsellors. Last week, I went back and did a quality assurance assessment and all the things are still in place.
I have spoken to the operational managers of the other maternity units, advising that sending staff on the training will make a difference and will increase the uptake of family planning and the most effective family planning methods.
To get midwives to competency, I started a postpartum family planning WhatsApp group, so if they’re not sure about something they can share their experiences with the group. I also made them mugs for recognition for their good work, so that they can see that at the end of the day they are making a difference in a woman’s life.
The mentor does daily continual assessment in postpartum family planning counselling. Every patient that comes through the labour ward are counselled. What we must remember as mentors and as the competent counsellors, is that it’s the patient’s choice whichever method she wants to take. I believe it’s not only what you say, but also how you say it, that will make a difference.
The LSC programme has made amazing changes in the facilities I work in. I always say, if I knew then what I knew now, I would have made such a big difference in women’s lives. Because we’ve got the knowledge, all that knowledge in postpartum family planning, that we can bring over to the trainee and to the patient. It’s like a contagious thing. Not just at the facilities where I work, but the mentors working at the other sites are making a difference. They are all talking the same language, giving all the same information to patients. The family planning services from where we were and where we are know, I know that LSC training has made a huge impact on the community. We make such a huge impact on staff, that the staff are already taking ownership which enables mentors to rotate to new extension sites to initiate the mentorship in postpartum IUD insertion. We have buy-in from stakeholders, the facility manager, operational manager, and the pharmacy. Everything is there and they are doing an amazing job.
Postpartum family planning is so important to reduce maternal and infant deaths. Through counselling, we make women realise the importance of family planning and for them to space their babies. I always tell the mums you have to start with yourself, by looking after yourself; start treating yourself and the rest will fall into place.