The inspiring story of Teboho Makhebesela


. . . male midwife treads unfamiliar path


More and more men are taking up nursing than ever before in Lesotho, where traditionally there are far fewer men in the profession. Among the few men that have venture into nursing an even much smaller number of them are midwives, given the public’s traditional view of midwifery as a profession reserved for females. Teboho Julius Makhebesela, is one of the few who choose to break the stereotype when he enrolled to study General Nursing and Midwifery with the National Health Training Centre (NHTC).

He was initially in love with and torn between studying nursing and law but after deep introspection he opted for nursing and midwifery. Born and raised at Ha Leqele in Maseru, Teboho, 29, has invested all his time and dedication to saving lives in the health sector to curb the rate of maternal deaths. After completion of his studies at the NHTC in 2019, Teboho worked under a LEPHIA survey conducted by ICAP between 2019 and 2020. He was then contracted as a Covid-19 nurse under the Ministry of Health from January 2021 to June of 2021 where he was placed at Maputsoe SDA.

At the end of his contract he landed a job at Jhpiego as a Covid-19 vaccination nurse and, luckily, before the end of his contract with Jhpiego, he was absorbed into the Ministry of Health system. Currently he works as a nurse-midwife at Matlameng Health Centre where he started in September 2021. “Growing up I wanted to study law because I liked the way lawyers looked in their black suits. But after completion of high school, one sister of mine told me high school was just a bridge to the future, therefore whatever decision I made would impact positively or negatively on my life thereafter. “She then said I should never go for law since many who completed their studies are still not practising but remain jobless. She further said I should rather choose between a business and a health related career,” Teboho recalls.

“Initially, I wanted to study obstetrics since those are male doctors who specialise in delivery. While I was doing my research about it, I learned I will have to begin with six years of medicine then two years of specialising. “I found this route time-consuming. Then I heard about midwifery and realised it would take me only four years to complete and practice as a midwife,” he says. He adds: “As weird as it sounded to my friends, it made sense to me because apart from having a passion, I realised children are born everyday and with the increase of the population there will be a huge need for midwives to help mothers bring children to earth.

“Therefore, these two reasons complemented each other hence I made a decision to go for it and that’s when I focused my efforts towards midwifery.” After deciding to study midwifery, he recalls his mother being very supportive since he was the first one and the only child in his family to enrol into an institute of higher learning. Makhebesela would like to study midwifery further by pursuing advanced midwifery. He believes passion can surmount the challenges people are facing in these rural facilities where the topography and lack of infrastructure, especially roads to assist smooth referrals of mothers in labour present a challenge. He thinks advanced midwifery will come handy in the fight against maternal death incidents and infants who die during labour due to complications encountered. His first delivery was a baby girl which he recalls as the best experience in his career.

“I was scared, which was normal, but as soon as I was in the labour room the excitement hit me and as soon as I heard the baby cry, that was a priceless moment. Nothing beats that sound when you are in the labour room,” Teboho reminisces. Since his arrival at Matlameng Health Centre, he has successfully delivered 25 healthy babies, with neither a new-born nor a mother casualty. The male nurse wears different hats and skills as he is also into entrepreneurship. When he is off duty, he engages in his hustle which he intends to turn it into a profitable business one day. His runs a called ‘The door heroes’. This is where he revamps old doors damaged by harsh weather conditions and to protect new ones so that they do not lose their appearance. He also styles them with different designs to give a home a luxurious look according to the owner’s needs.

In his spare time, he also does crocheting and carpet tufting as his hobbies. Under crocheting he specialises with crochet beanies, shorts, bralettes and children’s to name a few. However, now that he is into midwifery as a full-time profession Teboho says he is comfortable and does not feel like changing to a different career at all. He believes there is more satisfaction that comes with successful baby delivery despite the challenges within the field. “Even though it comes with being fully committed to the work, we work tirelessly. I am on call here at the clinic which means working 24/7; when a shift starts preparation also starts in my mind, then I make sure that I rest my body well. That’s only when I know I can go through it to the seventh day.

“Holidays mean more pressure because I am focusing not only on delivery but also on casualties. Luckily enough I am really trained to have to engage both the mother on labour and an emergency in the casualty,” he says. He goes on to say, in labour, there is always that particular patient who is always troublesome but the good thing is that being a nurse he is armed with training in ethics and appropriate communication skills that ease any situation he encounters. Whatever the patient says after receiving service at his health centre impacts the number of patients who will decide to come to deliver at the facility hence they have people who recommend their facility for delivery services.

However, some of the challenges he encounters include clients who come without having the required clothes for the new-born and cotton for themselves. It means the infant will have to wear the mother’s dress or a T-shirt “which is sad and unethical.” Secondly, failure of an expecting mother to attend antenatal care (ANC) services which impact on poor or lack of knowledge regarding danger signs in pregnancy, vaccinations, signs of labour and mother-baby-pack which entails clothes required for the mother and the new-born, blood tests done to elude illness and conditions that could endanger both the mother and her infant, to name but a few. Despite all the challenges he says his joy comes from successful deliveries that end in everybody being alive and happy.

But the greatest success story was when he revived an infant (a baby girl) who showed no signs of life but he just believed he could help her breath and ultimately she did. In that instance he was all alone and there was no one to ask for assistance. Despite being scared he was going to loose her he thanks to God the baby girl made it. “I enjoy having more deliveries than anyone at the facilities,” he smiles, adding that “helping mothers deliver is the most amazing thing ever that few people understand. Therefore, I am urging my fellow midwifes to be consistent with their work and continue loving their profession despite the challenges that come with it.” “On this special day, May 5, when the world celebrates and recognises each and every midwife for their selfless efforts, they should enjoy themselves and regard themselves as heroes because it’s through them a new human being sees the earth. “Besides that, I would like to emplore them to have seminars in each district where we can discuss challenges and ways to deal with them so that we give better services to our clients,” he adds. He also appreciates the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) for taking its time to visit some of their remote health facilities to hear their challenges and successes and recognise their work. It is like giving them a pat on the shoulder, he says.

One of the recommendations he makes is for stakeholders to facilitate regular refresher and training workshops for midwives because everything they learnt was acquired at school but since they left school there are no refresher courses done by any organisation or ministry for them to advance their skills. Unlike other programmes which get funding and workshops that help to improve them all year round there is no such with labour and delivery. Teboho’s message for anyone who aspires to study midwifery is that “midwifery is one of the most important jobs out there and the need for midwifes increases each year with an increase in the population. The need is not only limited within the country but across the globe…so, go for it.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *