People of the Year: Tiara Tuulua Senior Registered Midwife at Motootua National Hospital

Then I just closed my eyes and asked silently to God for help. Lord You sent me over here to save this mom and her baby.. Please God give me the strength and knowledge and skills to deal with this case.."

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With God’s guidance, wisdom and discernment, Tiara Tuulua delivers close to 300 babies each year and 2023 was no different.

In the early hours of this morning, while Samoa enjoyed celebrations to welcome the New Year, the Senior Registered Midwife (SRM) and Senior Registered Nurse (SRN) led the Labour and Delivery team at Motootua National Hospital to ensure the safe delivery of Samoa’s first babies of 2024.

Fiasiumu, 22, and her husband Timo were blessed with Samoa’s first baby of 2024. A baby boy weighing in at 3.5kg born at 0048 hours was SRM Tuulua’s first baby of 2024, and the countdown to another 300 begins. “Very easy and successful delivery,” she says as-a-matter-of-factly. “It was mom’s third baby.”

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This time last week on Christmas eve, Tiara’s team delivered seven babies between midnight and 7.30am. In January 2022, there were four sets of twins born in the first seven days of the year!

The mother of two from Leusoalii, Saleapaga, Saina and Saanapu is one of Samoa Global News’ People of the Year. It is our honour to pay tribute to SRM Tuulua’s service to Samoa.

Tiara Tuulua took up nursing as an act of obedience to her father, Tulaimalo Aisaka Tuulua. It was 2005 and she had just graduated high school from Avele College and had been accepted into Foundation Science.

Tiara was excited about the prospect of competing for an overseas scholarship amongst the elite Foundation Year of NUS. However on that day, as she recalls, her family’s limited financial resources dictated her path.

“This journey was chosen by my dad due to financial constraints,” recalls Ms Tuulua.

“I was accepted as a full Science student at Foundation Year, however, after enrollment, the total cost of my subjects for the year came to thousands, and my parents just couldn’t afford to pay the fees.”

“My dad was with me that day, at the Foundation Year orientation day, and the Foundation Nursing program struck his interest, because of the scholarships being offered if students chose a career in nursing.

Tiara says she was not interested in nursing and hadn’t even given it any thought.

“I had to listen to my dad’s advice to take up nursing, and I knew, e leai se tupe a nai o’u matua e totogi ai la’u full Science..” (my parents had no money to pay for my full Science option).

“And that’s why I ended up in nursing.”

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Although we wonder where Tiara would be if she had been able to take up Foundation Science in 2005, today, Samoa is grateful that she took her Dad’s advice and became a nurse.

Tiara Tuulua is the youngest of 13 children born to afioga Tulaimalo Aisaka Tuulua and Soo Faalalo Falanaipupu Tuulua.

Tiara Tuulua still smiling cheerfully after delivering 7 babies on Christmas eve.

She made it into Avele College from Luatuanuu Primary School and completed her Foundation Certificate of Nursing in 2005. Tiara went on to complete the Bachelor of Nursing in 2008 and in 2012 completed a 6-month course run by Australia and New Zealand to become a Neonatal Nurse Points of Care Specialist.

In 2014 Tiara returned to further studies in her chosen career path and attained her Postgraduate Diploma of Midwifery in 2015.

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Over the past 15 years as a nurse and midwife delivering an average of 288 babies each year, Tiara Tuulua has hundreds of stories about complicated births, and having to make quick decisions to ensure the safety and well-being of Moms and babies in her care.

In 2020, Tiara delivered Samoa’s first baby of the decade, born to Angela and Faletoa Moli from Falefa. In 2021, parents of Samoa’s first baby of the New Year baby were grateful for decisive actions by SRM Tuulua and the on-call doctors that saved their baby girl who needed resucitation after birth.

“She responded after about a minute and a half of our resuscitation..we continued until she was referred to the Noenatal ICU for close observation and treatment..

“Dr Tito Kamu our peads doctor was very helpful and was right there to start treatments after delivery.. and Dr Tapa Fidow was very busy with other critical patients that night, but always came in to check on us to make sure we were following the process, and to check on the Mom,” Tiara had told SGN at the time.

Senior Registered Midwife Tuulua recalls a mother with two previous cesarean sections who had been rushed to Poutasi District Hospital with labour pains.

Unplanned and unbooked the mother had been to just one antenatal check and was now presenting at the District Hospital with great pains around her c-section scar area.

“I was sent out to escort her from Poutasi to Apia for emergency c-section at TTM, but when I arrived at the District Hospital, I quickly reviewed her and knew that if we moved, she would be having her baby inside the ambulance,” recalls SRM Tuulua.

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“She was complaining of pain around her previous scar and my main concern was her uterus. It might rupture if she undergoes normal vaginal delivery but at that stage, she was almost fully dilated..”

“Baby’s heart rate was slowing so I had to come up with a good decision and the best plan for her..”

“I called Dr Manatua Iati who was on call at around 6am to discuss options and seek advice..”

“I had a mother who was almost fully dialated with strong labour pains, two previous c-sections and complaining of scar pains, and baby’s heart rate was de-escalating on the doppler machine..”

“I reassured her and her sister about the plan, and tried to convince her and comfort her, to make her confident and ok with my decision..”

“And then I just closed my eyes and asked silently to God for help..”

“You sent me over here to help save this mom and her baby.. Please God, give me the strength and knowledge and skills to deal with this case.”

“God. Please liligi mai lou mana, ia ola i la’ua nei.”

Baby was successfully delivered with the assistance of two midwives at the District Hospital, and both mom and baby were safe. E agalelei Le Atua.”

“O lenei galuega e vaaia lava le mana o Le Atua i aso uma ma taimi uma. Viia le Atua. So I praise God because in this role, we get to see his miracles, and His love and His glory every day.”

Asked what advice she may have for young aspiring nurses, Tiara Tuulua says, “just go for it.”

“Taking up nursing as a career will benefit your family and your community and people you know.”

“For those who want to take up Midwifery, it is a difficult field, but it is also a very  rewarding career.”

“But be a quality nurse or a quality specialist midwife,” says Senior RN and RM Tuulua.

“O ola o tagata e faamoemoe i ō tatou lima. Faamoemoe i Le Atua. Ask your senior colleagues for help or a second opinion. And work according to protocols and guidelines. Be a smart nurse i taimi uma.”

Tiara says her son and daughter and her Gifts from God, her two peles who have her heart.

Tiara is a proud mother of two. Her son and daughter are her heart.

“I am raising two children, they are my gifts from God.”

Tiara Tuulua is the youngest faafafine in Samoa to have legally adopted two children.

Tiara’s babies were abandoned by their birth moms at the hospital, but she says they were not abandoned.

“They are my two beautiful and gorgeous gifts that God left for me at the maternity ward and my heart is full when I think of them.”

Tiara has a great personality and many friends in all areas of Samoa’s social scene. In our research of her we also discovered she is the Inaugural Miss Faafafine Dancing Queen, at NUS in 2005 😉

Senior Registered Nurse and Senior Registered Midwife Tiara Tuulua wishes Samoa a Happy 2024 and never letting an opportunity to be a good healtchare worker pass her by, she ends with a call out to all mothers-to-be.

“Please keep up with your antenatal check ups and be sure you have a birth plan. Things don’t always go to plan but you can help us help you, if you stay up to date with your check ups.”

To Senior Registered Midwife Tiara Tuulua, and all our healthcare workers on duty tirelessly throughout Christmas and New Year, and on-call all year round – THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE TO SAMOA.

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