This week in Jacmel, Haiti, a group of 26 Haitian birth attendants and nurses came together to receive a three-day-long training course in safe birthing techniques and the midwifery model of care for low-resource settings.
The course is taught by Mother Health International, a nonprofit organization that received a $30,000 grant from Direct Relief to hold a series of training sessions at five different birthing centers in Haiti over the course of a year.
This training course will provide more than 100 hours of education to 180 students who will learn the essential skills of: assessing pregnancy and prenatal complications; performing safe deliveries; and proper postnatal care.
These birth attendants will attend a combined total of 3,000 births per year, so it is essential that they have the proper training to handle a normal delivery as well as any complications that may arise during the pregnancy or delivery.
Below is a dispatch from the first training course held in Haiti from the Traditional Midwife and Head Trainer, Clare Loprinzi.
The first of the three-day workshops sponsored by Direct Relief began in Jacmel this week with a strong group of 26 Haitian women. The group was a mix of traditional midwives and nurses who all came to learn about the practice of natural birth combined with the best of Western modalities.
Each group brought their own knowledge and experiences to the training–the matrons shared knowledge of the herbs, natural medicines, and the massages that are used in birth while the nurses shared valuable knowledge of universal precautions and important blood work needed in birth along with vital checks.
Midwives and trainers Clare and Marzia brought vibrant energy as they outlined the basics of the midwifery model of care in addition to teaching the skills of taking blood pressure and other vital signs.
Day two of the Jacmel workshop had a birth happening in the room next to us. We learned, danced and drummed the beat of the heart. As the woman was in labor we talked about what we would do with the use of movement to open the body to the greatest ability, the sounds (we sang them to the mom and baby) and herbal medicine.
I was blessed to come into the birth as the baby emerged into the world during our lunch break. In reality, we were all part of learning and the birth of the baby all together. The magic of birth was present in all of us.
The workshop also talked about the harder aspects of giving birth in Haiti such as how to help those women who are afraid to give birth due to the low economic conditions that they live with. We remember to laugh a lot as we deal with these deeply rooted problems that need to be dealt with, find solutions to them, unite the women, and regain their birth rights.
On the last day of the workshop, all 26 women again returned. It started out with the nurses again teaching the vital skills to those who needed to practice them. We studied more ancient medicines and modalities that are used in traditional birth and discussed the need for improved nutrition and prenatal vitamins for pregnant women.
There was time for questions which brought up again the education of prevention of bleeding and high blood pressure which affects too many women in low economic conditions. We ended by making a commitment to continue the training and workshops for these women at the birthing center in Jacmel.
Thanks to Direct Relief there will be two more training sessions throughout the year to continue the education for these women whereby upon completion they will receive certification and a birthing kit of their own.