The Carrie Wortham Birth Center in rural Haiti is strategically located several hours from any paved roads or medical facilities. It is out of the way for most, but perfectly “in the way” for families that live in the hills and valleys surrounding Cabestor.
Prior to building this birth center, the data collected by a colleague told us that this remote area had twice the maternal mortality rates of the entire country. Haiti already has the highest maternal mortality rates in the Western Hemisphere, so this particular region in the Central Plateau could be the most dangerous area to be pregnant on this island nation.
But Midwives For Haiti and the Carrie Wortham Birth Center is changing this. With the support of Every Mother Counts, we opened our doors in the fall of 2015.
The midwives have been busy ever since. Hundreds of prenatal and postnatal care visits have occurred, dozens of mothers have birthed their babies here, several emergency transports have occurred, and a group of matròns, or traditional birth attendants, have attended weekly classes to receive formal training in safe birth techniques and identifying complications.
One of these matwòns, along with a group of neighbors, saved the life of a recently delivered mother, who lives in the hills above the birth center.
After delivering at home, the mother’s placenta would not come out. Recognizing the emergency and that the mother’s life was at serious risk from a retained placenta and hemorrhage, the matròn and 18 good neighbors took turns carrying the mother and newborn on a stretcher for 5 hours until they reached the Carrie Wortham Birth Center.
Mom and her community of helpers arrived and were welcome by Birth Center midwives Nelta, Michel, and visiting volunteer midwives Emily Tinsley and Cindy Siegel. Cindy manually removed the placenta and mom received IV antibiotics. The neighbor-heroes came into the birth center to give a prayer of gratitude.
After two days at the birth center, mom and baby are ready to be discharged. And so begins their five hour walk home…
We are so incredibly grateful that the Carrie Wortham Birth Center was here for this mother, her family, and her community. To learn more about what we do and why we do it, check out our website and get involved.
Thank you to Cindy Siegel, CNM, for sharing these images and stories, and for removing that retained placenta! If you’d like more information on volunteering your medical skills in Haiti, please visit our Volunteer Page.