Traditional birth attendants catch about 75% of babies born in Haiti. These are wise men and women who have often received the knowledge from their elders or family members. They are highly respected community leaders and care deeply about the mothers they help during childbirth. Most have also never had any formal training in safe birth.
In our Matròn Outreach Program, we offer a 5-month course (meeting weekly) to traditional midwives to learn safe birth techniques, danger signs and when to refer, and the basics of clean delivery. These are proven interventions that save lives and can be as basic as hand washing, maneuvers to use during complicated births, or recognizing the warning signs of preeclampsia.
At a recent session in Cabestor, two Midwives For Haiti volunteers led the group of 30 in a role playing exercise to practice safe birth techniques. They used a pair of pant scrubs (with a hole) and a everyone had their turn delivering the baby and placenta. The more sounds the mother made as she “delivered,” the louder the laughter of the observers. No one will forget the lessons of this day.
Upon completion of the training program, this group will receive an identification badge to bring with them when they transfer patients- and they will be welcomed into the medical system. They will also receive Clean Delivery Kits each month, which include basic, sterilized equipment for a safe delivery. For the mothers who live too far from a medical facility or who cannot afford to get to one, these traditional birth attendants are their best option.
We often say that matròns are the bridge for the community to have safer delivery outcomes, healthier moms and babies, and stronger communities. If you’d like to sponsor a matròn training or donate Clean Delivery Kits, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
All photos by Cheryl Hanna-Truscott, Ambassador to Midwives For Haiti.