If you haven’t been to work with us in Haiti, it is often difficult to comprehend the reality of childbirth in such a poor, under-resourced country. Birth is not always a happy, joyous occasion. Many times, it is a fight for survival. Ensuring all Haitian women have access to skilled birth attendants- the single most critical intervention to ensure safe birth- is our mission and has been the focus of our work for the past decade. The following photo story illustrates just one example (of many) in which lives were saved because of this commitment. And saving more lives is why it matters.
A pregnant woman is carried into the maternity center by family members after a two hour drive. Mom, 33 weeks pregnant, has been having eclamptic seizures. Eclampsia is the leading cause of death of pregnant women in Haiti- and entirely preventable.
Family members bring sheets for the ill mother and help get her examination table set up.
Our skilled birth attendants- all trained in our education program to manage high risk complications, like eclampsia, and prevent them- move quickly to ensure mom receives the medicine she needs to stop the seizures and save her life. Mom’s baby is soon delivered by cesarean at 33 weeks.
Grandma cares for them while they are here, often sleeping on the ground next to their cot- she has a daughter, and now a granddaughter, whom she prays for.
Thanks to these family members who got her here in time, and the knowledge and medicine used by the skilled birth attendants trained by Midwives For Haiti, this mom and baby lived. Not all are so lucky and this is why the work of Midwives For Haiti matters. With more skilled birth attendants in more places, more moms and their babies will survive the war that is childbirth in Haiti.
Photos by Cheryl Hanna-Truscott.