A seemingly typical day is under way for the Skilled Birth Attendants (SBAs) trained by Midwives for Haiti. Their vehicle is loaded and departs from the town of Hinche. It’s a specially equipped Land Cruiser able to ford streams, climb steep, rutted dirt roads, dodge goats, dogs, donkeys and motorcycles as it travels over an hour to the remove community of Cerca Cavajal. The SBAs bring their skills, compassion and medical supplies to this prenatal clinic, which will serve over a hundred women.
Along for the day’s clinic is Brena Genise, a young, enthusiastic student in the 7th Midwives for Haiti class. Classes began only three months ago. Today, she’s learning the fundamentals of the mobile prenatal clinic – to bring monthly, comprehensive prenatal care, vitamins, and necessary medications to twenty remote villages surrounding Hinche.
Clinic begins. An SBA gives a brief informative talk to the gathered women, charts are handed out, blood pressures and weights obtained. Brena’s preceptor has her eye on a woman and she asks Brena to evaluate the lady. She’s due to deliver her third baby and reports passing fluid this morning. Seeking to examine the woman, Brena realizes the clinic’s wooden bed has a dirty, ripped mattress- certainly not ideal for a possible birth. Quickly, the portable exam table is opened, an exam is performed and the woman is found not to have broken her bag of water but to be in early labor. Her history and vitals are reassuring so she is offered water and juice. She’s encouraged to walk.
Two hours later, the woman seeks aid. She has the urge to push and indeed, her exam confirms its time to deliver!
Brena gently supports the woman’s back as she lays on her side on the portable exam table. She begins to push. After only ten minutes, her bag of water breaks – thick meconium is noted. With the guidance of her preceptor, Brena carefully delivers a gorgeous, healthy little boy.
He has a lusty cry and the meconium is quickly cleared from his nose and mouth. A placenta is safely delivered intact, uterine massage and Pitocin given. Both mom and baby are content and safe.
Mobile clinic will soon be finished after another long but very rewarding day. Brena is well on her way to joining the ranks of Skilled Birth Attendants creating safe births throughout Haiti – one woman, one baby at a time.
-Dr. Alice Hirata.