Wednesday, 7th December 2022
<To guardian.ng
Search
Breaking News:

Emmanuella Inah: I started safe pregnancy Africa to curb maternal, child mortality rates

By Esther Ijewere
12 March 2022   |   2:46 am
Caring is the essence of nursing and midwives. These words describe Emannuella Inah, a registered nurse and Midwife who is touching lives, and changing narratives through her work.

Emmanuella

Nurses are unique; they have the insatiable need to care for others, which is their strength.

Caring is the essence of nursing and midwives. These words describe Emannuella Inah, a registered nurse and Midwife who is touching lives, and changing narratives through her work.

She is passionate about seeing that women of African descent go through pregnancy effortlessly and are armed with information relevant for maternal and child health, through her initiative, Safe Pregnancy Africa, a community of black women that she founded.

Emmanuella dedicates her time to teaching and mentoring women through the trimesters of pregnancy, contributing to curbing maternal and child mortality rates in Nigeria and Africa as a whole. She is also the founder of the Preggy Pidgin Podcast, a platform that has gained global recognition after emerging as one of the 35 best pregnancy podcasts in the world in 2021. She uses the platform to reach the inner cities of Africa, educating people on successfully transitioning from pregnancy to delivery without complications, using Pidgin English, a language spoken in several countries of the African continent.

In 2020, Emmanuella was listed as one of the 100 Outstanding Women Nurse and Midwife leaders in the world. A list, which was compiled by the World Health Organisation, International Council of Midwives, Nursing Now, Women in global health and UNPFA.

She has three books to her name, one of which is The PREGGY workbook, a simplified guide to going through pregnancy and labour with concrete information and a space for the pregnant woman to journal her experiences using prompts and questions from the book. A force to reckon with and a visionary, Emmanuella shares her inspiring journey with Esther Ijewere in this interview.

Growing Up
THE thought of being a Nurse or Midwife never crossed my mind until a student nurse said I acted like a real nurse. This was in primary school, many years before I became an adult, but her words never left my mind. I would later ask my mother if I truly behaved like a nurse.

It was all exciting; I took her words as a compliment. What nobody realised was that she planted a desire in my heart. I read books because my mother said nurses read big books and solved hard mathematical equations because papa says it’s what nurses do. My uniforms were neat and ironed because I didn’t want nurse Joy to take back her kind words. The foundation for the nurse I am today was laid years before I realised I would someday be a Nurse.

I grew into loving the profession; I had access to beautiful videos and pictures of nurses; my mother made them available and told me lovely stories too. Those stories infiltrated my subconsciousness and made me long for the day I would wear the nurse’s white gown and the nightingale’s cap. So, it wasn’t difficult to choose nursing when I got two admission letters to either study Nursing or Chemical Science.

Inspiration Behind Safe Pregnancy Africa And Preggy Pidgin Podcast
In 2018, I and three other midwives were posted to a community in Nigeria to serve for a month. In those few weeks, my eyes were opened to the large knowledge gap amongst pregnant women. The things I considered simple and expected everybody would know were things many of the women didn’t know.

In that community, I saw that women got pregnant by chance; there was never prepared for the health of the woman, the finances of the family, education on recognising danger signs in pregnancy and generally poor knowledge on how to successfully transition from pregnancy to puerperium. My colleagues and I did a good job in educating the villagers; we took health education to the village squares and markets and held meetings with the chiefs on how to get funding for the Primary Health care centre.

When I got back home, there was unrest in my spirit. I knew there were other women in several other places with zero knowledge about their health, body and pregnancy. So, I went online and created Safe Pregnancy Africa, a community for women of African descent where I would educate on everything that bothers maternal and child health. A platform where I could answer questions and give guidance to as many women as I could reach.

In 2019, I realised my message was better understood when I taught in Pidgin English.

I got many women asking questions for more clarification and many others speaking out. It bridged the language barrier I never knew existed; I was able to break down compound topics like Preeclampsia/eclampsia into understandable bits teaching in pidgin. This gave birth to the Preggy Pidgin Podcast.

The listenership has grown from Nigeria to 38 other African countries with positive feedback every week.
Preggy Pidgin Podcast Nominated As One Of The 5 Best Pregnancy Podcasts In The World

Consistency made that happen. It is one thing to take a step; it is another thing to remain consistent. I understood that for my message to penetrate the busy online space and get to my core audience, I have to remain consistent.

The Journey So Far
So far, so good. It may sound cliché, but that is how it’s been. The feedback has been great, the love and positivity are some of the motivation that fuels my conviction and consistency.

Why I Pitched My Tent In The Nursing And Midwifery Sector
Becoming a nurse was easy because I believe life prepared me for the profession, but specialising in midwifery came as a result of an event that happened in 2012. It happened on a Sunday when many people had gone to church. A young lady from the village had come to stay with her husband in the neighbourhood. It was just her third week in town, but she was almost due to deliver.

That morning, her scream stormed the yard. The lady was in labour and not just that, the baby’s head was already in the vulva. I still don’t know if she attempted to deliver the child herself, but the child’s head was trapped between her thighs and it was already turning blue. I was the first to rush into her room before other women joined in; that sight has never left my head.

At that moment I wished I could do something to help the woman and her baby whose eyeballs were already swollen; she lost the child. Later on, I would come to learn about precipitate labour, but I still wonder what happened to the dear lady. That was the first time I wished I were a midwife. Also, the growing rate of maternal mortality inspired my decision to become a midwife. I wanted to contribute my quota to the noble course of ensuring that women especially of African descent go through pregnancy ready, healthy, and knowledgeable.

Challenges Of My Work
Trust! I am a petite midwife and often, women in labour would like midwives who look physically competent. Funny right? But I have had a few challenges proving myself. 

Other Projects And Activities
I am working on funding and distributing birth packs to three communities in Nigeria under Safe Pregnancy Africa. Also, I am looking to partner with international organisations to carry out health centre renovations and sponsor training for health workers.

What I Enjoy Most About My Job
It is satisfaction. Nothing compares to the peace of welcoming a child into the world. Midwifery is a ministry; my hands have touched and handled purity. From the first time a newborn takes its first breath and lets out that loud cry, I am there. I think it’s right to say I stand by the gate of life. 

Three Women Who Inspire Me And Why
One of the women that inspire me is my mother; she is very resilient and confident. Once she sets her mind to do a thing, wink an eyelid and you see the results displayed. She is focused, determined and loving.

Remi Owadokun is another woman that inspires me; she is smart. Remi utilises resources within her environment and her reach to achieve goals one would think are farfetched. 

Ugochi Obidiegwu is a focused woman and she inspires me. I have seen her take up projects that seemed complex and accomplish them in a moment of time. These women play huge roles in my life and I am blessed to have them.

Women’s Awareness On Maternal And Child Mortality Rates
Not many women realise that the mortality rates are high. If we share these details with more women, they will be more interested in knowing details about their health before even falling pregnant. That is why The Preggy Pidgin podcast pushes this information through Pidgin English, trying hard to ensure that more women understand the process of transitioning from no pregnancy to pregnancy and everything in between.

What We Can Do Better As A Society To Educate Women On Mortality Rate And Safe Pregnancy
It starts from the grassroots; if we could dedicate more time to teaching during antenatal clinics in health centres. Answering questions without the terminologies and creating a warm setting for women to be free to express themselves.

Also, training or educating the Traditional Birth Attendants (TBA) is important. Most women in our communities trust the TBA, if we could arm more TBAs with correct information, then they would know what to say to the women who trust them and such information would correspond to global standards.
One Thing I Wish To Change In The Midwifery Sector, Especially In Nigeria
Remuneration of staff!

Being A Woman Of Rubies
I am teachable, smart and loving.