Today is the last day of our Mother’s Day campaign. If you’re able, please consider making a donation on our website and we’ll send an e-card to the recipient of your choice, letting them know you made a donation on their behalf this Mother’s Day.
From all of us here at Saving Mothers, a very happy Mother’s Day to all of you wonderful moms out there!
The weekend is here and I hope everyone is enjoying some rest and relaxation (and don’t forget to call your mom tomorrow and wish her happy Mother’s Day!)
Today we have a blog post from Dr. Joelle Morrow, Dr. Carolina Bibbo, and Samantha Haspel RN who are down in Santiago Atitlan. I shared some photos of these lovely ladies last week and now you can read about what they’ve been up to in Guatemala these past few days.
Hope you enjoy!
As part of our countdown to Mother’s Day (only 10 days away!) I thought I’d share another story from the field here on the blog today. One of the truly great things about working on the Saving Mothers blog is that I get to hear all the amazing stories of our volunteers working in the field. It’s amazing to hear about the experiences of these young doctors who travel to places like Liberia and Guatemala to try and improve the environment for pregnant women and new mothers in resource-limited settings.
For example, this is Kimberly Ferrante.
Kimberly is a resident at NYU’s Langone Medical Center. She recently made the trip to Monrovia, Liberia and spent two weeks teaching and delivering babies at the Redemption Hospital as a volunteer for Saving Mothers. I was particularly touched by Kimberly’s reflections on her time in Monrovia since it was clear how much she had been personally affected by the experience. In talking about her experience providing training to the local doctors and midwives, Kimberly said ”While I always taught, I now realize the crucial importance of teaching. I can teach people how to manage patients appropriately so that even though I may not be there, my knowledge is there and perhaps that can save someone’s life.”
In addition to teaching, Kimberly was also called upon to help in some particularly difficult births. She delivered a shoulder dystocia (an obstetric emergency where the baby’s shoulders fail to emerge shortly after the head). No one else was capable of the procedure, but Kimberly managed to pull it off and deliver a healthy baby boy. Kimberly said “I was huffing and puffing after the baby came out- mostly because I was holding my breath! But he was fine, and so was his mom! She looked me right in the eye and said ‘thank God for you.’ I don’t think I have ever gotten as sincere a thank you as this woman gave me that day.”
It’s always amazing to hear not only what these volunteers give, but also what they take away from their experiences in the field. We at Saving Mothers are so proud of our volunteers and we ask for your help in continuing to support the inspiring work of people like Kimberly. Please visit our website and lend your support today in the form of a special Mother’s Day donation! We’d appreciate it more than we can say. And don’t forget to stay tuned for more updates on the projects we’ve been working on this year as we continue the countdown to May 13th!
Happy Monday friends and followers! Here at Saving Mothers, we’re getting excited about Mother’s Day (Sunday, May 13th) and we’ll be spending the next two weeks sharing information through our blog, Twitter and Facebook about the work we’ve done over the past and the goals we’re hoping to achieve in 2012. A number of our volunteers have spent time in Guatemala and Liberia and I’ll be sharing pictures and stories from the field with you over the coming days. In addition, we’ll be selling Mother’s Day cards on our website , so be sure to check them out- not only will you be sending a special card to your mother, you’ll be supporting an awesome cause.
So check back soon for more Saving Mothers updates and have a great week!
Hello? Anybody out there?
Yes, it’s been a while- three weeks! for shame!- since I’ve posted anything here. Rest assured, it’s not because there haven’t been interesting things going in the realm of women’s health, but rather because yours truly was away for 10 days out of the country on vacation and then was promptly deluged with work the moment I stepped back in my office. Excuses, excuses.
Anyway, to make up for my prolonged absence, here is a roundup of a few interesting articles that’ve been making its way around the interwebs of late. Enjoy!
Happy Monday, folks! We have a new post from the field for you today, this time from volunteer Rashmi Kudesia, a resident in obstetrics and gynecology at New York Presbyterian Hospital. We hope you’re enjoying these posts from our volunteers in Guatemala and that they give you a flavor of what Saving Mothers is trying to accomplish in terms of improving maternal health in local settings.
This post from the field comes from Lauren Abrams, a certified nurse and midwife who has worked with Saving Mothers since the very beginning. She just recently traveled to Guatemala and spent a week living with a Guatemalan comadrona to immerse herself more deeply in understanding the challenges and opportunities that exist in providing health care to local women. We hope you enjoy reading her story!
Last week I got to combine my two great passions, midwifery and international work, by participating in Saving Mothers’ Midwifery Immersion Project. I had traveled to Guatemala before with Saving Mothers to help provide safe birthing kits and formal training sessions to the comadronas in the Lago Atitlan area, but this time I was going to live with one of the comadronas herself, in the hope that participating in her daily life would provide opportunities for a true exchange of culture and information.
As it turned out, I got my wish, and then some!I was warmly welcomed into the home of Maria Elena Coche, the leader of the comadronas in San Juan La Laguna, who is not only a comadrona but a well-respected traditional healer. As a mother of four children and a healer whose services are much in demand, Elena is a very busy woman. I quickly learned that after her daily housework is done (which includes the making of what seems like hundreds of tortillas daily, many of which I happily consumed), she spends her evenings and nights responding to calls from community members in need of spiritual and physical healing.
On our first night we went to visit Josefa, a young mother of 2 children who was suffering from general body pain and stress. When we arrived, her 4-year-old daughter was asleep, and her 7-year-old son was watching her weave on her traditional loom, which was attached to the wall of the one room the family of 4 shared. Josefa gave Elena a bag of fragrant green herbs which I later learned were rue. Elena ground up the herbs with various solutions, lit candles and incense, and chanted quietly over the mixture for several minutes. She then gently rubbed it all over Josefa’s body, chanting over Josefa as well, and had Josefa drink the rest of the solution. We then spent a long time chatting with Josefa; she had had c-sections for each of her births and we talked for a long time about her labors and birth experiences. She served us coffee and some sweet bread, and we were on our way.
Over the week that I spent there, we spent many hours this way, visiting with and providing services for community members: men and women, pregnant and non-pregnant. Elena never turns down a request for help, and so we were often out till long after midnight, accompanied always by her faithful dog Peluchin. Over the week, we became something of a team, combining our resources to provide what felt to me like truly holistic care. Elena used traditional Mayan herbal remedies and massage to treat flank pain, vaginal infections, and anxiety; we worked together to assess pregnant bellies and provide prenatal care and referrals to more “modern” facilities when it was needed. One of the pregnant patients’ baby was breech at term; we used a combination of Mayan remedies, spiritual practices, American midwifery tricks and Chinese medicine to try to get the baby to turn. Elena also used the training she had received through the government hospital to counsel her patients about family planning methods and making birth plans, seamlessly integrating her traditional skills with modern medicine. The women were always welcoming and grateful, and we spent many hours after the treatments sipping coffee, playing with the kids, and telling birth stories.
One highlight of the week was the “capacitation”, which was a training for the San Juan comadronas held at Elena’s house. Experienced and new comadronas alike came and attended the training, in which we spoke about providing complete prenatal care and trained the comadronas in the use of a fetal heart Doppler, which was donated by NYC Midwives, the local chapter of the American College of Nurse-Midwives. At the end of the training each comadrona received a safe birthing kit with instructions; in order to help us improve the kits, we asked each comadrona to fill out a survey after using the kit. Upon returning the survey, they will receive another kit. The newer comadronas were particularly enthusiastic, and approached Elena at the end of the afternoon to ask that we return to provide monthly trainings.
Saying goodbye to Elena and her lovely family after the week was very sad, but I left looking forward to returning and continuing the work we have started in San Juan. We have identified a local clinic which will welcome visits from North American midwives providing prenatal and gyn care, and hope to integrate that care with the home care provided by the comadronas. We plan to continue formal trainings and distributing birth kits. And perhaps most importantly to me, we will continue to build a strong cross-cultural friendship between American midwives and Guatemalan comadronas, sharing knowledge, experience, tricks of the trade….and lots of tortillas!
Happy Monday everybody! Today we have a post from the field from one of the newest additions to our Saving Mothers team, Leiann Lopez. Leiann is our new Donors & Members Liason and she recently took a trip down to Guatemala to get a feel for the work Saving Mothers is doing there. I hope you enjoy reading her account of her experience, as well as checking out some of her lovely photos. Without further ado, I give you Leiann’s post from the field!
As a new member of the Saving Mothers team, it was important for me to visit one of our sites. My goal was to learn more about the work Saving Mothers is doing for women, as well as a better understanding of their culture and community. When Guatemala presented itself to me, I jumped at the opportunity!
While I was there, I spent some time in San Juan La Laguna where our midwife/volunteer, Lauren, was staying. I was privileged to accompany her and a comadrona (local birth attendant) to a few prenatal visits. My favorite visit was with Ana, who is one of the older comadronas. The comadronas do not have much for their prenatal visits. Ana simply takes a small amount of oil that she carries with her, puts some on her hands, and massages the mother’s belly. This technique is done to position the baby in the correct position for birth. On this visit, Lauren brought along a Doppler to check the babies’ heart rates and taught Ana how to use it. I must admit, as simple as it was, this experience was incredibly touching and inspiring. It was awesome watching Ana try the Doppler herself!
During the comadrona reunion, after a teaching session, we passed out the birth kits we had assembled during an event at the Museum of Motherhood in New York City. Jessica shared the photos of the event with the comadronas as we passed out the birth kits. I think it is important for them to see and know that people here at home are helping out as well. We were also able to donate a Doppler to the women. While there was only one to give for all of them to share, it’s a step in the right direction! Hopefully one day we will be able to donate a Doppler to all of these lovely ladies.
I was also invited to stay a night with Elena, a comadrona in San Juan La Lugana and a curandera (traditional folk healer). It was an incredible experience. I feel extremely honored that I was able to stay with her and her family. What a warm and loving bunch! I was also lucky enough to go to a curandera curing ceremony for a woman whose baby is in a breech position.
I could go on and on about my recent visit to Guatemala; from spending time with the local people in their homes, to visiting the clinics, attending teaching sessions, exploring communities, and learning their culture. These people have so little, yet they are probably happier than you and I. Everyone I met was so full of love and light. I was welcomed into everyone’s home. In addition, I was invited back and assured I had a family there. I feel unbelievably blessed to have had the opportunity to meet such beautiful people. This was a learning experience that I will never forget. I think my heart tripled in size! I wish I could have spent more time there, but there is always next time, right? I am looking forward to my next visit!
Below are a few of my favorite photos- enjoy!