In the most underserved area, there is excellent maternal care.
By Janice Taylor, Development Director
Global Birthing Home Foundation
Over thirty years ago, my two daughters were born in an Independence, MO hospital. The first birth was an emergency C-section. It was scary, but I trusted my doctor. Back then, a C-section dictated my second delivery would be as well. I was blessed with two healthy daughters. Recently, my daughters were having babies. At first I was nervous about their desire to have a more natural birth experience. Six years ago, finding a midwife in Kansas City and insurance to cover a home birth was a challenge for my oldest. But her experience was well worth it. My second daughter lives in Georgia and it was even more difficult to find a midwife. She had to travel 40 miles to Savannah to a birthing center providing midwifery services. She felt it was a great experience.
Then I started working with an organization in Leawood, KS, Global Birthing Home Foundation. (www.gbhf.noukod.net) Started by two Kansas City physicians, they support a maternal health and birthing center in SW rural Haiti. Maison de Naissance (“Home of Birth”) provides complete, quality care for mothers and babies. The difficulty of finding and affording a trained professional midwife is far more than ever imagined in the US. A lack of transportation, financial resources, and healthcare professionals and facilities abound. According to the World Heath Organization’s report, less than 10% of women in rural Haiti have access to an obstetric professional. In our zone of service, 97% of women can and have accessed our services. In 2017 alone, Maison de Naissance midwives provided 3,738 consultations, including 322 deliveries, with ZERO maternal deaths. Since opening in 2004, they have performed over 5500 deliveries and still ZERO maternal deaths.
In June 2017, I visited this well operated healthcare center in the middle of rural Haiti for the first time. It is 100% Haitian staffed. Turning off a rough, narrow road, the clean, fresh looking building is definitely out of place. The day I visited, women were having prenatal checkups, others were getting family planning consultations, and well baby check-ups were happening. They were keeping records, had charts on the wall, and everywhere you looked there was information for mothers to see. There were no cars in a parking lot, no strollers for children, and no air conditioning. Women had walked or gotten a ride on a motorbike to travel there, carrying their babies and other children with them. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d5AAaC257Nc
If we have obstacles in Kansas City to quality maternal care (and we do, especially in African-American communities), imagine all the obstacles this birthing center overcomes to provide quality care in rural Haiti. As little as $600 covers everything needed for a baby’s birth at Maison de Naissance. (Donate here to support these amazing midwives!)
The six midwifes working there are amazing. They truly make the difference between life and death. They believe all moms and babies deserve quality maternal healthcare regardless of what country they call home. This birthing center has not only impacted the community health, but also its economics. As the founder, Dr. Betsy Wickstrom, has said, “The whole community has thrived since we started in 2004. More homes have tin roofs instead of thatched roofs and cement floors instead of dirt. More farm animals can be seen as one drives up to the center.”
I could not help but compare my childbirth experience to my daughters’. After my birth experiences, I strongly desire others to have quality care, regardless of where they live. In comparison to Haiti, I cannot help but be a strong proponent of midwives and quality maternal healthcare.
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