Monday, December 12, 2011

Not one, not two but three-Triplets born at MHI Uganda clinic

Alice arrived in the Eleventh hour. Literally, translated from the Acholi language, 5 am is called the Eleventh hour, with 6 am being the Twelfth and 7 am being the First hour; the first hour of light and a new day. She arrived in what she believed would be her Ninth and final labor. Having walked about 6 miles to reach help, she was ready to push shortly after arrival. Her body was tired, she had barely eaten the previous day, and was encouraged to drink sweet tea to give her energy for the push.

The baby's tiny head emerged, quickly followed by the rest of her, and yet the mountain of Alice’s belly still loomed before us, undiminished. As her body called her to push again, she believed the placenta would be born, yet instead, tiny feet made their appearance, then disappeared again to be replaced by another, tinier head. Then the second little girl was born, followed immediately by those persistent, delicate little feet that had tried to cut the line. And then there were three. Three tiny, beautiful little girls, instead of the last, single child that Alice had been expecting.

Needless to say it was a bit of a shock, to all involved. Earlier in the pregnancy, Alice's husband had divorced her, after bearing him 5 live children. He maintained that because he had used condoms with Alice when they had intimate relations, he had nothing to do with this new pregnancy, and sent her back to her fathers village with all of her children. She found herself suddenly single, now with 8 children all under the age of 12.

The first days were challenging, but the babies, named in Acholi tradition: Apiyo (first born), Acen (second born) and Adoch (born breech) were strong spirits, all able to latch and nurse well. Apiyo was 2 kg/ 4.4 lbs, Acen 1.8 kg/ 3.9 lbs, and tiny Adoch was only .9 kg/ 1.9 lbs. Alice was very despondent at first, overwhelmed with the reality before her. She was reluctant to hold them or nurse them, believing that at least one or more would surely die, afraid to love them. Her tired body refused to cooperate, and two, three, four days passed and still her milk failed to come in. We fed her, gave her teas, vitamins, homeopathics and loving support... yet still her milk did not come.

By the second day, the babies were crying in hunger, so we supplemented their milk, always having them first nurse for some time on Alice to continue stimulating her milk supply. The most difficult in the beginning was Adoch. She was so weak, it would take her five minutes of dripping milk into her mouth for her to gain enough strength to suck. By the third night of sleep deprivation, Alice asked me to take Adoch at night, and I was happy to, because I could see that as the weakest, unable to express her needs, she was wasting at night while the other two grew slowly stronger. And she thrived, sleeping on my chest at night and spending the day curled up with her sisters, by a week old she was starting to gain on them.

It took 6 long days for Alice's milk to come, but thankfully it did, as we knew it must. She was able to fully nurse Apiyo, but we had to continue helping her with Acen, who developed reflux, and needed to be fed small quantities in an upright position and then burped and held upright for 10 minutes after each frequent feeding. As for Adoch, more and more Alice asked that she remain with us midwives. She expressed her belief that she might be unable to care for all of her many children, collect firewood, cook, wash, find food for so many with three small babies. Who would carry the other two while she worked with one on her back? How would she manage while they were still so small and unable to be worn on the back? Several days later, her milk supply was still not adequate for three, not even quite enough for two, no matter how much we fed and hydrated her.

One afternoon, as I sat bathing the babies with her, Alice looked me in the eye, told me about her concerns and asked if I would like to have Adoch. I asked her if she was serious. She said she knew now that she could not take care of these babies alone. Could I, or someone else take one or even two of them?

With Adoch bound to my chest, and my own one-year-old daughter on my hip, I went to my co-midwife Rachel, to cry the pain in my heart because I knew I could not take this baby, yet I knew if I did not, she would surely die. And as she often does, Rachel inspired me... what if we could find an adoptive family? And as soon as we put the word out to the universe, a miracle was provided! 

Two weeks postpartum, a grateful and stronger Alice returned to her village with Apiyo, the first and strongest of the baby girls. Acen and Adoch grew steadily with us, and just a couple of days later met their new mother. Although the legal process in Uganda is lengthy, the new parents are committed to give their daughters the very best and are sticking with it through thick and thin.

At 2 1/2 months old, all the girls are now over 4 kg/ 8 1/2 lbs , healthy, strong and beautiful.
Olivia Kimball, Traditional Midwife

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Happy Birthday Sankofa

When I was leaving my home in Hawai’i my family said, “we will see you on your birthday.” I had already seen that my birthday this year would be on a full moon, just as when I was born on a full moon 57 years again and so I answered, “no, there will be a baby born on my birthday and I will be there for her.” We have always in our family given to others on our birthdays, as the material gifts do not mean much in the bigger picture of life. The morning of my birthday as I was teaching a class before a morning full of prenatals, I noticed a young girl in a beautiful white dress with green, yellow and red colors at the top of her dress squirming as if she was having contractions. I was teaching about how important it was that the women claim their birth experience and understand what is happening to our bodies in birth. Mary Antoinette would soon have the women up doing primal dance moves that will move them and their babies through this primal experience we call birth. I watched this young mother tighten up her shoulders as another one of the Haitian apprentice midwives, Cason, gently massaged her shoulders. I explained the importance of allowing the baby to be born through our bodies and how relaxation allows the release of hormones and endorphins. I kept an eye on this young mother, now knowing that she was the reason why I stayed a couple days longer. Soon we were up doing our exercises and forming a circle of women that would learn our primal dance steps and gently massage each other’s shoulders as we moved in a circle one way, only to reverse the dancing circle and now massage the hips in front of you.

As the dancing was ending, I snuck away before prenatals started on the thirty plus women that showed up to go and connect with Betina, the young mother. We smiled, connected and said a few words as she was allowing her body to have contractions. Since she was in early labor, I worked the morning doing prenatals with the women. As the afternoon progressed and the women left, Mary Antoinette, the first translator and then apprentice at MHI, stayed with me with Betina. Her sister came and I was to find out that both of them were professional dancers in Ayiti (Haiti). Mary and I too are dancers so it was just normal for us all to dance, we could hear the drums in our heads and we would move our hips and bodies to the beat either bringing on the contractions or moving through them. Betina and her sweet baby were figuring out how to move with this birthing ceremony of life. Again it was a great honor to be there with the women doing a primal dance of life.

As night came onto us, Mary Antoinette being very pregnant, went to rest and take a nap. Betina’s mom and husband did the same. That just left Betina, her sweet baby and me to move together. I gave her a strong deep massage that loosened up all the muscles in the front and back of her pelvis and touched and talked to the baby while I was massaging. I massaged her through contractions and restful minutes, as labor was now getting more intense. This intensity is something as a midwife that I love, it not only brings the baby closer but it brings the woman to a powerful place that connects her to the greatest of all mother, the earth. It is a powerful energy that I am able to tap into as the mother now is well connected to her “work” and of course the work of her baby that connects her to a deep primal place. This hard work that we do for the earth and of course it comes back to us as women in our own personal growth.

Betina then got up after her massage and started moving in her dance, the African bird was opening her up, her baby was moving down through her pelvis and I was there to again witness and help. When the baby got low, she moved to the ground and curled up, I went and got two pillows, one for her head and one between her legs and laid down to hold her. Betina had chosen the ground, not a bed to birth and I knew and she knew just where to be. She was holding onto me tightly in a big hug and she looked and me so sweetly and said,” I love you Clare,” I did not even know she spoke English. I was so touched and honored to be part of love again. I called out to Mary Antoinette to come and catch her baby and to her mom who was also resting and to her supportive husband. Mary Antoinette gracefully supported the head and Betina as the baby come into the world, I was privileged to keep her in my arms breathing with her. Betina controlled her breath in a deep “aaaa” as her body opened up to let her baby come so peacefully to her. Again I was blessed to witness this ceremony of birth and the power of a young woman.

Later Betina and her husband asked Mary to interpret for them, they asked me if I would name their baby. I was shocked, as it is a big responsibility to name a baby, the name that they will hear and it will become who they are. At first, I was questioning whether I was ready to do this naming of a baby, but I heard my “motherwit” speak…say yes. I answered that I was honored but the name would be African,. it would go back to their ancestors just as she did when she birthed. They smiled and the next day, Mary Antoinette and I went to her home to give the baby her name. It came to me so strongly, Sankofa…the name of an African bird that means to go back and get it. It meant for me that Sankofa had come to her mom, allowed her to fill the power of that mighty African bird which Betina had become during her dance of birth. I explained this to the family when I came, and they all smiled, it was the name that they wanted. I was asked to be the godmother of my special birthday baby gift, Sankofa.

Father Love

Mary and proud Mamma & Papa of Sankofa

Clare & Sankofa's family

Monday, August 8, 2011

Midwifery Students: Stories from the Ground at Soley Lavi, Jacmel, Haiti

We are happy to share with you the stories from our midwifery students in their own words from the ground in Jacmel.

Fabienne Toussoint

Casaudre Marie Solomon

Jean Philippe, Marie Christane (Krista)

Fabienne Toussoint
Translator/apprentice midwife

First of all I like nursing. I did know if i could do this and midwifery but i saw that i could when i started to work for Soley Lavi because it was not a difficult thing. When I choose something to learn at school in PAP, I chose accounting but people told me, "Why do you choose accounting, you look like a nurse?". When I see people suffering it gave me a headache but i would think, I am suppose to try to help someone who has a problem. After I help women at Soley Lavi and see them afterwards, they always thank me and tell me that i am good. It is good for women to be able to birth and get prenatal care and after birth care at Soley Lavi. We take good care of mothers and babies. They feel comfortable with us at Soley Lavi. When I compare if to what happens in the hospital I see a big difference. The way we talk to the moms at Soley Lavi is good as we treat them with respect. We do good work for the women to believe in natural birth. At the hospital they give the women pitocin and they do an episiotomy even if they do not need it, they do it. We give waters, walking, dancing, breathing and lots of love. I want this clinic to always stay alive because it does good work.

Casaudre Marie Solomon, Student Midwife
When I was a sales woman and came to sell clothes at MHI and left my phone number with the women to call me if they needed more. Then i met Dr.Mathilde Coste at MHI (Soley Lavi) and she told me that there are classes here to be a midwife and good women here. I came to work and sleep at the clinic with Mathilde and was so happy to be with her. My dream is to learn to be a midwife so when Melinda came and Mathilde was gone I learned from her. I think about midwifery because the way we treat women here is so different than the hospital. I remember one time we had a woman birth and she bit Marie Antoinette who did not say anything. I helped hold her. I love the vision of Soley Lavi. When you see a woman you think of life because women keep life going. The spiritual side, the compassionate side, the strong side of women. I believe in that. I give help and I learn. What I learn from the other person and help other women that need help too. For example last week I met someone at midnight, at birth she needed help at her home. I knew what to do and no one knew because when the baby was born the cord broke. Although I did not have gloves on I helped that baby. I saw life and I knew I should be using gloves but i did not have them, but i knew i needed to help that baby. I want this clinic to stay alive to make a good life for Haitian women. I want more women to learn and help other women.

Jean Philippe, Marie Christane (Krista), Student Midwife
This is my dream when I was in school to become a nurse. When my father died I could not realize my dream because I did not have help. I want to go back to school, I just need one more year to finish. I have one more year of classes. I met Marie Antoinette who wanted me to come to Soley Lavi. I like studying midwifery and it makes me realize that I want to go back to school. I like Soley Lavi because it helps the women and they do not need pitocin. We talk to the women, help them, encourage them, show them how to treat the babies. I like all things here at Soley Lavi. Before my experience at Soley Lavi I was afraid of blood, now blood does not bother me. I am always happy when I come to Soley Lavi.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Birth of Esther

Summer has arrived at MHI. It was only 7:00am and we were already feeling the intense heat of the sun as a woman arrived at the clinic in active labor. Though her contractions were strong she seemed grateful to finally be doing the necessary work. She’d spent the night in the dome a week ago thinking that it was her time only to have labor stop.

We settled her in the dome and began preparing for her birth. Sweat was pouring down all of our bodies, hers most of all as her contractions intensified. The mother asked if she could birth outside. It was a beautiful quiet Sunday morning. We rigged up some sheets to give her privacy. She was without family as her husband is a preacher and needed to be at church. We took turns massaging and encouraging her.

Before long the woman’s voice changed and we knew she would soon begin to push. Her membranes ruptured revealing copious dark meconium. Baby’s fetal heart tones were normal and since we could tell birth was imminent, we prepared the equipment to help the baby if needed. The woman really wanted to be sitting upright as she began to push so Melinda got behind her to hold her up. Soon Melinda needed support and she asked my daughter, who was working in the garden to lend us her back. Tara positioned herself with her back against Melinda’s and pushed against the concrete wall with her feet and hands.

As the baby’s head emerged, Kari, the student midwife and myself acted quickly to suction, unwrap the umbilical cord and get the baby up to her Mama’s waiting arms. The baby was slow to start but came around thanks to our combined skill. I felt all of us praying, each in her own spiritual way as we welcomed baby Esther. As she began to come into her own her little voice joined the chorus of distant voices singing in their morning worship service.

Women helping women birth their babies is as ancient as our existence. What a privilege it was to be a part of baby Esther’s arrival. She is another beautiful light in our world.

Kathi Mulder, CPM. Volunteer Midwife at MHI, Jacmel, Haiti

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Volunteer Midwives Needed in Jacmel, Haiti

All of our jobs, the Medical Advisory board, the Board Directors, the midwife volunteers and the Haitian women on the ground is to continue to help this clinic grow into an independent birth clinic run by Haitian women. Soley Lavi, the Haitian name of our clinic, was given by the Haitian women who work and are studying to become traditional birth attendants and CPMs. As you come to work with us, remember that your job is to help them do their work but to not do their work from them. Your job is to help empower these strong women and support them in their midwifery education and studies. Your job is to teach the Haitian student midwives the Traditional Midwifery Model of Care. We are looking for someone who wants to give to this birth movement and well knowing what they get back is way more then they will give.

Volunteer Midwives Needed

Mother Health International is seeking volunteer midwives for the last week of August into early September. We are seeking volunteers who practice gentle birth techniques that allow a woman to birth with dignity, love and with family support. We are looking for skilled and licensed midwives who are willing to donate three or more weeks of their time to serve the women of Jacmel, Haiti. Historically, August and September the MHI birth clinic has lots of babies. Volunteers are responsible for all expenses for travel to and from Haiti. Mother Health International has a house for volunteers to stay during their volunteer time with food and basic essentials provided. If you are interested in volunteering with MHI please fill out the appropriate application ( and send it and all required paperwork to

Mother Health International has an On-Site Midwife Coordinator position available at our Jacmel, Haiti birth clinic.


  • Must be willing to embrace and practice the Traditional Midwifery Model of Care.
  • A willingness to live in Jacmel, Haiti at the wonderful MHI birth clinic for a three to six months, as a primary midwife. This position requires the individual to be NARM approved preceptor.
  • Midwife may be a direct entry, traditional, CPM or CNM who embraces the Traditional Midwifery Model of Care. Must have a midwifery certificate.
  • Must bring in a list of supplies needed for the clinic plus help raise awareness and money for the clinic.
MHI will provide: All expenses on site are paid for including housing, food, and high speed Internet. Unpaid vacation time with prior approval. If you are interested in this position please email for a full job description.

Mother Health International Apprenticeships

Mother Health International is a NARM approved birth clinic located in Jacmel, Haiti. We will accept one or two student apprentices per month at the MHI clinic in Jacmel. Apprentices can either come to our clinic with your preceptor or you can have one of a MHI midwife volunteers, who is a NARM approved preceptor, to serve as your preceptor. A minimum of one month volunteer time is required for all apprentices. Fees and other details are on the application. During the apprenticeship, you will observe and practice all aspects of midwifery relating to pregnancy and childbirth with the mother and a NARM approved preceptor. These experiences include prenatal exams, births, and postpartum visits. Our apprenticeship is perfect for those midwifery students who want to practice a traditional midwifery model of care with emphasis towards recognizing that the least interventions brings the best outcomes in birth. If you are coming with your preceptor she will need to fill out and submit the volunteer midwife application with your application. For more information visit, click on volunteer.

Our Mission: Mother Health International is dedicated to respond and provide relief to pregnant women and children in areas of disaster and extreme poverty. We are committed to reducing the maternal and infant mortality rates by creating healthy, sustainable holistic birth clinics using the midwifery model of care with culturally appropriate, education for the health and empowerment of women. With every healthy birth there is a positive benefit for the communities that we serve
and the world as a whole. Our ultimate mission is to empower and educate the local clinic staff, with gender equality, to become the health care providers for their community.

Join our facebook page, Mother Health International

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Ripple of love: Working with the Strong Women and Babies of Haiti

Marzia with mother and baby-Ripple of Love from Haiti to Sicily and beyond. 

In October of 2010, I went to Jacmel, Haiti to work at the Mother Health International birth clinic. This statement of the advisory board of MHI speaks to this unique clinic, “The Mother Health International Advisory Board is a broad collaboration of practitioners advising and supporting Mother Health International to create the bridge between high technology obstetric care and the excellent outcomes provided by the low technology, hands on midwifery model of care in the lowest economic and disaster stricken countries. The collection of our data provides inspiration for birthing centers worldwide.” I would like to bring you to this unique clinic in Jacmel, Haiti with this story.

When I planned to go to our clinic in Jacmel I had a few other responsibilities in mind besides helping with the growth of our clinic. I had planned to work alongside Marzia Florida, a Sicilian licensed midwife who was working with and educating the Haitian midwifery apprentices. I had also submitted an abstract and was accepted to speak at the NHAHA (National Haitian American Health Alliance) conference and share about my time working in the clinic as part of my presentation.

One late evening I came up to the dome which is where our birth clinic is housed with nine beds, to help assist another birth after taking a much needed shower. As I walked into the dome I was surprised to see Marzia lying on the ground with a very scared woman in labor. Her cries, her arm tightly clasped around Marzia’s neck and her tightly clenched flailing legs were a sad sight for me to see, as I deeply believe in this traditional ceremony of birth. It was obvious to me that this woman’s past had been beyond what most women would be able to withstand and come out sane. I quickly went to get the rest of the supplies that are always on hand for each birth and bring them to where the mother was birthing along with a few pillows to make her a little more comfortable. She would not be moving to the nice beds that we have, she had chosen where to birth. I began to softly hum a powerful old song and say “vini babe” (come baby). Never once did Marzia complain about the position she was held in, she calmly spoke to the mother and took her other hand to rub her forehead with a cool damp cloth I handed her. As the baby emerged into the world supported by three midwives and the father, I brought the mothers hand to her baby’s head to bring the reality of what she was feeling physically to her, bringing her mind and spirit calmness, and bringing her baby the same peace and love.

The next day when this mother was to be discharged from the birth dome, she hugged both Marzia and I. As I watched her hug Marzia goodbye, I felt the deep love and respect that women have for our work. The trust was profound. Later Marzia said to me, “That woman will always stay with me, she helped me so much. I am now ready to go back to Sicilia and help women birth peacefully at home. " I was blessed to help with this strong Haitian woman and her birth. The woman and child not only transformed their own lives through this peaceful birth but also rippled that love to everyone who was present and beyond. It is a memory that reminds of how powerful it is to give each woman and baby respect, love and a safe place to let the birth happen. This is the clinic at Jacmel, Haiti. by Clare Loprinzi, Traditional Midwife, CPM, Mother Health International Midwife

As posted in White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood, Stories of Midwives
Mother Health International is a proud member of this organization.

Marzia & Clare and sweet baby at the MHI birth clinic.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Meet Madame Presner Cazeau

My name is Madame Presner Cazeau and I am married and have six children. I am Haitian. I am the person who is responsible to wash the clothes and I am a hard worker. I work hard for my six babies to send them to school. They are all in school. My oldest son is 28 years old, this boy wants to work for the clinic but it is not possible because it is work for women. The other children are 26, 24, 22, 20 and the last 18. My first four babies were born at home and the last two at the hospital.I like the clinic because the clinic is her work. When I was younger life was easier but like all things it has changed and it is more expensive to live.

My dream is to work to find money to build a house. I rent a house that is made of metal, I pay 3000. Haitian money every year. My husband left me with all our children. I work hard. I need help.

by Madame Presner Cazeau

Support Birthing Women in Haiti: Photography Fund Raiser for Mother Health International birth clinic in Haiti


SUNDAY, MAY 15, 2011, 10 AM-2 PM


Need a professional photograph for a business card or resume? Want a beautiful professional photograph of your children for grandparents and family as a holiday gift? This is a great opportunity.

Suggested donation: $50 per child/adult per 15 minute mini session includes one 8 x 10 print B&W or color. You will have 8 photos to choose from, each session will receive a print credit of $40. Extra copies of photos can be ordered through Melody. For more than one child book additional session times. Value: $120. All donations are tax deductible.

To schedule an appointment: Call 703.732.1700 or email

About Melody:
Melody Yazdani is a fine art photographer that focuses on Maternity, Newborn, and Child Portraiture. She has three children and is inspired everyday by the joy and innocence of childhood.

Mother Health International (MHI) is a registered 501c3 tax exempt organization dedicated to bring midwifery care and education to women in areas of disaster and extreme poverty. We are committed to reducing the maternal and infant mortality rates by creating healthy, sustainable traditional birth clinics using the midwifery model of care with culturally appropriate education for the health and empowerment of women. Our ultimate mission is to empower and educate women, to become the health care providers for their community and to share this knowledge with the many families who choose unassisted home births. MHI opened a free standing birth center in Jacmel, Haiti shortly after the devastating 7.0 earthquake that destroyed much of Haiti January 2010. MHI which has assisted over 400 women give birth safely with the care and support of skilled volunteer midwives. We are currently training four Haitian women to be midwives and run the clinic for their community.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Help us meet Millennium Development Goal (MGD) #7

Mother Health International is making every effort to reduce our waste and move away from using disposable products at our birth clinic. We are no longer using disposable diapers, moon pads and Chux pads.
Help us meet Millennium Development Goal  #7
Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability
Mother Health International has created health protocols to provide a safe, clean and sanitized place for mothers to birth their babies. We have also incorporated into our protocols cord-burning to greatly reduce the risk of infection. Our clinic is based a traditional model of the midwifery model of care, which tends to use less medical interventions, also uses and generates less toxic medical wastes. Efforts to utilize local nutritional and botanical medicinal resources also enhance sustainability. Mother Health International has eliminated the use of as many disposable products as possible to reduce the amount of waste our birth clinic creates.
In order to help us meet this goal we are asking for donations of cloth diapers, reusable moon pads and cotton mattress pads to name a few of the products. To help us succeed in this effort we have created an Amazon Wish List to make purchases of these items which will be hand carried to Haiti by our fabulous volunteers. Thank you in advance for supporting these efforts.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Shower Baby & Clinic Life-Building Community

Shower Baby

We had this lovely mom in labor, just doing her thing moaning and breathing through what seemed like mild contractions from time to time. Morning came and she decided she wanted a shower. Marianne (student midwife and translator) prepared her a traditional wash, just water and fresh papaya leaves all broken up in the water. As Marianne was toting the water, the mom cried out “miss, miss, come, the babe is coming". Marianne ran into the shower to see the head about to crown, well the mom called it, the baby was surely coming. Towels got put down in the shower floor and the mom got into a nice squat. Ninotte got there just in time to catch the coming baby while Marianne supported the woman from behind. Mom was very happy and equally surprised that baby had arrive so promply. Mom ended up having her shower after the baby was out, but all was in good time. Mom and baby snuggled in bed under the porch till they were ready to go home. So short and sweet. Mom and baby have been coming for postpartum visits and the baby exclusively breast-feeding and doing great!

Clinic Life-Building Community

Clinic days are going great. The last few prenatal days we saw a handful of moms just about ready to deliver. I have a feeling that a busy spell is coming our way. Its kind of nice when they all come at once, its a big rush of work to do, massages to give, babies to catch, guidance to offer. Its nice for the moms too. They labor with the women that they know from prenatals and get to connect on another level. During prenatals we are teaching the moms to build community, starting here when they come for prenatals. And I see it happening when moms show up at postpartums together walking side by side enjoying new friendships. I love what can come out of a simple clinic! So much love!
by Melinda McClaren, On-Site Midwife Coordinator, Mother Health International, April 4, 2011, Jacmel, Haiti

Monday, March 21, 2011

Not only babies are blooming at MHI

Not only babies are blooming at MHI; the garden is just starting to get active. We have squash, tomatoes, beets, cucumber, bell pepper, salad greens, herbs, eggplant, and some flowers peeking their heads out. We've also recently made the discovery of 2 exciting plants on our land: Moringa and Cotton. Moringa is an amazing tree, whose leaves can be eaten and provide complete protein + essential minerals and vitamins, as well as medicinal properties. Additionally, the seeds can be ground and used for water purification! We've been encouraging women to take some home and to look for it around their houses to eat.

The second plant, is cotton. We dug up the roots of one of the plants last week to make tinctures with the apprentices for Cotton Root Bark (Gossypium herbaceum), which is excellent for inducing labor and helping with post-partum bleeding. All this is aside from the wonderful plants we've already been acquainted with here: a Loofah vine which provides us with natural sponges for dish cleaning, the banana trees, the cherry tree, and the mangoes which are starting to drip from the sky. New things are being planted continually atop placentas--more Moringa, cotton, papaya, kashima (a popular fruit), etc. We are all excited with the abundance that nature is providing us here in Jacmel.

Happy Spring Equinox!
Rachel Olsson, Volunteer Midwife and Gardner, MHI birth clinic

Jacmel, Haiti

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Happy 1st Birthday Mother Health International

"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

To the Mother Health International Community:

With a tremendous amount of hard work, generous financial contributions from those individuals and organizations who believe in the MHI model of care, a lot of love, kindness, and a strong desire to preserve the sacredness of birth and offer a safe place for Haitian women to birth, the MHI birth clinic was officially born a year ago today.  
Happy 1st Birthday Mother Health International! 

"We're building a new generation in Haiti, starting in Jacmel, where love is in the middle of the MHI team and all the women that we've been taken care of. Our Haitian women are very courageous and strong, they know how to take care of their children but, they are some things that they do not know that can make the difference between life and death. Through the course of prenatal care at MHI birth center, each woman gets an opportunity to further their education to maintain a healthy pregnancy and family through teaching on hygiene, nutrition, breast feeding, gentle parenting and much more. We're trying to create a relationship between us and the women, something that can help to touch their heart. When you touch someone's heart you can change their life. My relationship with MHI clients shows me that we are indeed doing that. Thank you for keeping us alive this past year! Over 400 babies were lovingly born here and thousands of women cared for. Help us continue to live out our vision for the families in Jacmel," Ninotte Lubin, MHI Administrator & Midwifery Student

"From the original seed of a disaster relief clinic, MHI's birth clinic in Jacmel has evolved to a Haitian community traditional birthing center. The Haitian women have now become the primary administrators and care givers to their community. We are grateful for their strength, their dedication and love for this project. International support now consists of donations and mentoring by midwifes and other healthcare professionals. This clinic is continuing to grow and evolve with your financial help and love. We are becoming a unique example of a culturally based traditional midwifery model of care. We could not do it without all of your support. Our deepest thanks and love go out to all of you." Clare Loprinzi, Traditional Midwife, CPM & Dr. Joseph Kassel, ND, LAc., MHI Volunteer Medical Advisory Board Members

"To all the women in Haiti and the amazing volunteer team I work with each day, thank you. To the many individual and corporate donors who have been so generous with your contributions and support, thank you. To the many many volunteers who have come to Haiti, thank you.  I am personally blessed and honored to work along side such an amazing team who gives of their heart and soul each day to sustain this beautiful birth clinic. It is truly a privileged to do this work and it has forever transformed me. This is what I was born to do in this lifetime. Merci ladies of Haiti for giving me the opportunity to fulfill this calling." Heather L. Maurer, MHI Volunteer Executive Director & Co-founder

Please consider donating today to help us celebrate our 1 year anniversary and our recently granted 501(c)3 status. Visit our website:

In great gratitude,
The Mother Health International Team  

Mother Health International is a 501(c)3 tax exempt public charity. Your donation is considered tax deductible under the guidelines and rules of the IRS-USA.

Mother Health International receives 501(c)3 status from the IRS

I am thrilled to announce that Mother Health International has received our 501(c)3 status from the IRS. Contributions to our organization can be tax deductible under the section 170 of the IRS code. We have been classified as a public charity. Donate today!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Employment Opportunities

Mother Health International Job Openings
On-Site Midwifery Coordinator
Jacmel, Haiti

Mother Health International has two On-Site Midwifery Coordinator positions available. The MHI On-Site Midwifery Coordinator’s primary responsibility is being the primary midwife NARM preceptor at the MHI birth clinic. This is an amazing life changing opportunity for someone who wants to work within a traditional midwifery model of care.

Primary duties include:

• Works with the Volunteer Medical Advisory Board President, Clare Loprinzi, Traditional Midwife, CPM on the educational program for the apprentices and overseeing this on the ground in Haiti.

• Attends births working within the MHI protocols and upholding the MHI model of care.

• Works with the Administrator of MHI on maintaining the midwifery side of the clinic.

• Maintains all NARM protocols for apprentices.

• Communicates on a bi-weekly basis in an email or skype with the President of the Board of Directors as it pertains to this job.

• Welcomes and orients volunteers to the clinic.

Additional details:

• Teaches apprentices while following the MHI protocols, helps improve the clinic day efficiency working alongside the MHI administrator in the clinic to help identify and find solutions to the midwifery related issues that pertain to clinic.

• Working with volunteer midwives and Haitian apprentices to create prenatal education that the Haitian apprentices teach the moms on prenatal days to include healthy pregnancy, breastfeeding, nutrition, peaceful parenting, labor, birth and postpartum care.

• Oversees the midwifery care we give while working and abiding to the MHI protocols; communicates with the Administrator and the President of the Board of Directors on ways to improve the care we give and reports back the weekly updates on the happenings at the clinic as it pertains to this job.

• Sets the tone and protects the space for all births to be seen as a sacred right for the mother, child and family attending.

• Teaches apprentices to do monthly clinic statistics

• Facilitate study time on a weekly basis in a formal setting/interactive “classroom” discussion time

• Facilitates and encourages volunteer midwives to teach students in clinic and outside clinic times

• Orients volunteer midwives to clinic systems and supplies, meds, etc. Explains and goes over the protocol book and all current systems pertaining to the clinic. Orients volunteers to the house and Jacmel, laundry, meals, clean up, changing money and overall cultural norms in Haiti.


• A willingness to live in our volunteer birth clinic for a minimum of eight months of time preferably a year in Jacmel, Haiti as the primary midwife on duty.

• This position requires NARM preceptor certificate/approval. Midwife may be a direct entry, traditional, certified professional midwife or certified nurse midwife willing to work within a traditional midwifery model of care.

• Must bring in a list of supplies needed for the clinic plus help raise money for the clinic.

What MHI will provide:

This position will be given a small monthly stipend for spending money. All on ground expenses are paid for including housing, food, and high speed Internet. Unpaid vacation time.

Mother Health International’s Mission

Mother Health International is dedicated to respond and provide relief to pregnant women and children in areas of disaster and extreme poverty. We are committed to reducing the maternal and infant mortality rates by creating healthy, sustainable holistic birth clinics using the midwifery model of care with culturally appropriate, education for the health and empowerment of women. With every healthy birth there is a positive benefit for the communities that we serve and the world as a whole. Our ultimate mission is to empower and educate the local clinic staff, with gender equality, to become the health care providers for their community

Volunter Administrative Team
Heather L. Maurer, Co-Founder, Executive Director

The Medical Advisory Board’s Mission

The Mother Health International Advisory Board is a broad collaboration of practitioners advising and supporting Mother Health International to create the bridge between high technology obstetric care and the excellent outcomes provided by the low technology, hands on midwifery model of care in impoverished and disaster stricken countries. The collection of our data will provide inspiration for birthing centers worldwide.

Volunteer Medical Advisory Board
Clare Loprinzi, Traditional Midwife, CPM, MCH certificate
Carol Roedocker, CNM
Dr. Jade Patti McGaff, MD,OB/GYN
Dr. Mathilde Costa, MD, OB/GYN
Dr. Misha Kassel, MD, Emergency Medicine
Dr. Joseph Kassel, ND, LAc.

Words from Melinda McClaren, Current On-Site Midwifery Coordinator

I came to Haiti not knowing what to expect or who to believe about the
situation here. The news and people coming back from the quake shaken
land told stories of horror and sorrow, of danger and strife. However
the story I now know of Haiti is one of love, strength, humor and all
good things among the hardships faced in a 3rd world country rocked by
injustice on every level. I am proud to say that I came to Haiti with
an open heart and have been given one back by each person I met.
Haitians have moved into my heart and soul in a way that no other
peoples have. I must say “thank you” to my dear friends here in Jacmel
for embracing me and wanting me to “become” Haitian, to be able to see
life from their perspective. I am honored. Now down to what I do
here.... Well, if you haven't heard there is this amazing birth center, the
Mother Health International birth clinic, that started up in Jacmel just
after the earthquake of 2010. I was living in Canada when I came
across the work that MHI was doing in Haiti and I just knew that this
was it for me. I saw the website and my heart was set. I have worked
overseas several times and the thought of doing midwifery in a developing country
set my heart on fire. I know the difference one midwife can make
in the life of a family. I know that just simple sharing of knowledge
regarding hygiene and nutrition can make the difference for a mom and
baby. Education is the key to empowerment and empowerment is just what
Haitian women need. At the MHI birth center we have woman from all
over the place coming to us for care, some are city folks, others are
from the boonies (jungle-country side) and there is a vast difference
in education between these two groups. Teaching people the basics on
breast feeding actually can save a baby’s life. There are quite a few
mothers that were feeding their babies sugar water until their “true”
milk came in. This a dangerous practice and we get an opportunity to
share with women how they can effectively care for their wee ones to
prevent all sorts of problems sugar water can cause. This is just one
example and there are so many to tell!

Women empowerment.... This is another great aspect of doing
midwifery in Haiti. You know being a midwife can allow you access into
a woman’s and families life in a way that very few professions allow.
Being present with a woman through the childbearing process allows you
the most intimate window into her life an the potential to be a close
friend and guide when she needs it most. It is to come alongside her body,
spirit and soul and believe in her innate capabilities,
believing in her as a mother, as a co-creationist in regards to her
child but also the direction of her life and energies. Becoming a
mother changes a woman and has the potential to inspire significant
life changes for the betterment of herself, her family and her
community. Love is a very strong driving force that can move a woman
from one state of being to another. This is what I live to see in
Haiti, and this is what I have been seeing in the women we care for.
This what makes this work of consultations and birthing so rewarding.
I see new life being born, not just in the newborn, but it is in the
woman becoming a mother, a more aware, responsible and stronger being
that is being born also.Haiti can make it, can rebuild itself, if we start working together
one life at a time, one relationship, one situation at a time, change
can happen and is happening everyday. Like it, live it, see it! This is an opportunity
that will change our life as a midwife and allow you to travel deeper into the
tradition of midwifery. This work and time with the Haitian people is one of the
greatest experience and gifts I have ever received. And it has profoundly
impacted my life in a beautiful way.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Mother Health International Newsletter February 2011

Please click here to see the latest Mother Health International Newsletter.

MHI mother nursing in tandem. Lucky babies! Lucky Mamma!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Brick by Brick, Birth by Birth, AU Alums Aid Reconstruction Effort in Haiti

Brick by Brick, Birth by Birth, AU Alums Aid Reconstruction Effort in Haiti

By Rebecca Vander Linde

When the devastating earthquake hit Haiti one year ago, on January 12, 2010, U.S. Ambassador to Haiti, Kenneth Merten, SPA/MPA ’86, and communications expert Heather Maurer, SOC/MA ’02, sprang into action.

As ambassador, Merten has been doing yeoman’s work. A deadly cholera outbreak, a recent controversial presidential election, widespread poverty, and seemingly endless piles of rubble are just a few of the problems he confronts daily. However, Merten reports Haiti is well on its way to recovery a year after the disaster, though the progress may not be readily apparent.

“[When] people come down here, they see there are still areas where there is unmoved rubble or buildings that are collapsed, and it still looks bad. But for those of us who have been here since [the earthquake], there has actually been a lot of improvement,” Merten explains. Among those improvements: the court system is up and running; one third of the homeless population has a place to live; over 1.2 million cubic meters of rubble have been cleared by the U.S.; and now that groundwork has been laid, construction can begin on permanent infrastructure.

While the United States is dedicated to assisting Haiti, relying on foreign aid is not a long-term solution. Ambassador Merten stresses the importance of empowering Haitians by encouraging self-sufficiency and rebuilding a nation with an educated population of workers to sustain a stable economy.

Heather Maurer, SOC/MA ‘02, shares Ambassador Merten’s belief that educating the people of Haiti is crucial to the recovery. Maurer is co-founder of Mother Health International, an organization dedicated to pre-natal and maternal health care and reducing infant and maternal mortality in Haiti.

Maurer was inspired to start MHI when she saw disturbing news footage of a Haitian woman on a stretcher giving birth in the middle of a street immediately after the earthquake. Upon realizing the baby was breech – presenting feet first instead of head first – the nurse who had been treating the woman abandoned her because she lacked the proper training and did not know what to do. Galvanized by the footage, Maurer knew she had to help, and so Mother Health International was born.

Currently, MHI has a nine-bed clinic in Jacmel where over 425 women have given birth. The clinic uses the natural midwifery model of care and is staffed by volunteer OB/GYNs and midwives from around the world as well as five paid Haitian women who are receiving midwifery training. “One hundred percent of the money we raise goes directly toward Haiti – the Haitian midwives in training and the clinic… We are educating and empowering these Haitian women to become midwives and to ultimately take over and run the clinic.”

Brick by brick and birth by birth, Haiti is rebuilding. “For people to expect that everything will be up and functioning as it was before the earthquake in one year is unrealistic,” Ambassador Merten says. But it certainly seems that with the help of dedicated AU alumni, Haiti is well on its way.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Beautiful Mothers of Haiti

Please enjoy this beautiful video showing the beautiful mothers of Haiti and the work of some of the volunteers of MHI. 

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Wisdom of the 13 Moons-Traditional Midwifery Education

The Wisdom of the Thirteen Moons was created to help midwives that are already working and those aspiring to become midwives to learn traditional ways of working with natural modalities instead of working with pharmaceutical drugs and ultra sounds in birth. The Wisdom Series will be specifically for dealing with many situations that experienced midwives face and give a more traditional approach to dealing with them. Dealing the overall health of the pregnant woman, bleeding after birth and more importantly avoiding it in the first place. Greater work with specific herbs and moxa burning and identification of a deeper knowledge of prevention with hot/cold are included. Chinese medicinal approaches are taught at a deeper level. Working without ultrasound and more effective monitoring of mother and baby are taught. These are just some of the classes offered. There will be about ten sections to this series. My hope is to keep this series updated and broaden the knowledge to make us stronger midwives. As we show respect to the thirteen moons that guide us each year, we return to some of the traditional ways that have always been giving us light and always been honored and respected throughout history. Of course, 100% of this programs’ proceeds are donated to Mother Health International.

To enroll today, click here.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Imaccula's Birth Story

Imaccula, 30 years old having her first baby. She comes to the clinic faithfully for prenatal check ups. There is something slightly different about this sweet woman. Three days after she was born, she was given water to drink instead of breastmilk. Sadly this water was contaiminated with typhoid and she deveolped typhoid fever. As a result her right arm became paralyzed to some degree and she has no use of her hand, it is all cripped and tight. Her right leg is also affected and cannot walk straight or run. However she made it through the typhoid and has become a stronger woman because of it. Imaccula just came to our clinic to give birth the night before last. She labored thoroughout the day and into the early evening. She got up and hobbled around despite contractions coming like waves upon her fragile body, she was active and in charge of her birth. As the time got closer to pushing, her mother drew near her side and massaged her, and talked to her firmly when she felt overwhelmed with the sensation of a baby making its way through her. Her mother was almost one with her in the labor, not doting on her but sharing in everything. You could see and feel the anticipation she had for this baby and the love for her daughter.

Immacula was on her hands and knees rocking back and forth during contractions, midwives and mothers standing by ready and present, however after one of those contractions, suprising to all around, the mother announced, “the head it out, the head it out”. She pushed so silently that no one realized the baby was just a push away. The midwive kneeled down to gently catch the baby as it came into her hands, the baby was then passed to the mother and lay on the bed with Imaccula looking over her baby in utter awe and wonder. Minutes later both mom and baby are settled snuggly in the bed and the first words I hear Imaccula say aftet birth is the sweet words only a mother can say “my child, my child, oh, look at my daughter, my child”. Some of us broke out in tears at the sound of these words. The pride and love you heard in her voice is not something I can transmit on paper, something that I will never forget. Then all of a sudden she became very strong in her voice and said....."I told you I am not going to give birth in the hospital, I am happy that I gave birth here, thank you, thank, you take care of me so sweet.” The birth was like a victory for her. It was amazing to watch her in the hours that followed, smiles and tender affection. Her mom told one of our assistant midwives, “you gave me everything for my daughter, may God bless you.”

It was indeed a blessing that she had a gentle birth, unfortunatley often times women like her that are different, crippled, etc are not treated well. Knowing how it could be for her in this situation, we gave her the best care and love that we could.

The next day, she was sitting outside on a bed under our porch. One of our translators walked up to her as she was coming on shift. Imaccula, looked from the translator to her baby and back to the translator with the biggest, shyest smile I have seen. She could not contain the joy and pride in being a mom, in holding her baby for the translator and the world to see. These moments are so precious in a cruel hard world. For this baby peace started at birth.

Melinda Maclaren, MHI Volunteer Midwife & Ninotte Lubin, MHI Administrator, Midwifery Student

January 12, 2011-Mother Health International Newsletter


Today, 1-12-11, marks the one year anniversary of the founding of our beautiful birth clinic in Haiti which conisides with the devastating 7.0 earthquake that struck Haiti killing thousands, destroying millions of homes and displacing many people to tent cities where they still reside. It left thousands of women in Haiti with no safe place to birth and few skilled birth attendants to assist. Cholera runs rampid throughout the country taking more lives and making survival more difficult for women and children. MHI team continues to assist births at the Jacmel clinic and sends love and support to the Haitian people today as they reflect, mourn and remember their lossed loved ones and strive to move forward and build a life for themselves out of this devastation.

"While you are looking at the horrors still ongoing in Haiti, please look at the miracles of MOTHER HEALTH INTERNATIONAL in Jacmel, Haiti. They are using traditional Midwifery Model of Care to provide excellent, dignified outcomes for pregnancy, births, breastfeeding, and helping women with the traumas of rape and STDs. This is done on a very low budget, including education and sanitation. MHI will reduce the mortality rate of
moms and babies, "
Jade McGaff, ObGyn,
MHI Medical Advisory Board.

Jacmel, Haiti, January 12th, 2011
"We all are created to live in an environment that we have to work hard to stay alive, we all are aware that we are HUMAN but, we all are not conscious about what we must do to protect where we live. HAITI is an obvious case where people say every single day " GOD knows all ". They forgot that they can think for themselves. When you think for yourself, then you can understand and make decisions. Then you decide you can choose not to be a slave but to be free and responsible for what you do. People forgot the fact that if you don't think for yourself, you will lose your ability to choose and you can create your own misfortune.

We have have had a lot of bad disasters in Haiti but January 12th was the worst day that Haitian people ever knew. I don't believe in tears after death, I don't believe in taking time to remember what has happened when you had the ability to prevent that thing from occurring in the first place. I do believe in action. I do believe in what you can do now to have a different future. May 21, 2010 was my first day in MHI.  After the earthquake, every single day I was trying to find work. A lot of work had been created by NGO's coming from all over the world, spending a lot of money. When I found MHI, I didn't see this work as an opportunity to make money, I worked for $10 US a day while other NGO's would pay up to $100 US a day.

What motivated me to work for MHI was that I could, help women to know who they are, how they can get pregnant, and give birth naturally in love and peace with the responsibility to change their life and maybe the world.

I can tell you as a Haitian woman, MHI birth center is like a miracle in my region Jacmel for the women. Do you want to know why? I want to sum it up in one sentence: MHI creates a space for women to feel safe, to learn how to take care of themselves to have a healthy birth and a healthy baby, understand that life can be better if you take your responsibility despite your reality and situation. The women that come here to our clinic, understand and show us that they are really strong women.

Please, help MHI, by donating whatever you can to MHI. It can make a difference. Your donation can help Haiti not to ever have a day like January 12 again. By doing this amazing work for families in Jacmel, we are hoping that it will carry a spark to other parts of the country.
We want it to create a better life for women in Haiti and I believe it starts with caring for women during pregnancy and birth. Women can heal the planet but we should start by healing birth. No matter who you believe, you must take your responsibility. Help us teach women how to do that! Thank you." From Ninotte Lubin, MHI Administrator and Student Midwife

Over 440 babies have been born at the MHI birth clinic to date. The birth clinic which has employeed all women, with the exception of our security guards, continues to grow and thrive as we train Haitian student midwives the tradition of midwifery. These women are great leaders in their community and work hard every day to ensure the success and survival of the clinic. 

We need your help. We must raise $9,000 to pay our yearly rent by March 1, 2011 and money for the monthly salaries. Please donate today to support this birth clinic and the Haitian staff. 

Mother Health International seeks volunteer midwives and ob/gyns for the 2011 calendar year. The MHI birth clinic is now a NARM (North American Registry of Midwives) approved birth clinic and we have begun our student apprentice program which will allow 2 to 3 student a month to volunteer in our clinic while finishing their certification process.
Visit our site for an application.

In gratitude for your support,

Ninotte Lubin, MHI Administrator, Student Midwife
Clare Loprinzi, CPM, MHI President
Heather L. Maurer, MHI Co-Founder, Executive Director 
Jade McGraff, OBGyn, MHI Medical Advisory Board

"The education and empowerment of women throughout the world cannot fail to result in a more caring, tolerant, just and peaceful life for all." Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, leader of Burma's democracy movement

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Meet Shela Barthelemy-Student Midwife

My name is Shela Barthelemy. I am 23 years and I am from across the river from Jacmel. I am a very strong young Haitian woman. I want to work to find money, I have a lot on my plate now I had four sisters but I lost three sisters in the earthquake and my one brother is very sick now, close to death. I have been taking care of myself all the time, my father died when I was 10 years old and my mother lives in the Dominician Republic. MHI is helping me in my life so much and I thankful for this.

I want to congratulate the clinic for the care it give the women in pregnancy. I am very thankful for Clare Loprinzi for giving me the opportunity to learn about midwifery and English. I am in school taking English every day now so that I can translate in the clnic. Before I came to MHI I was already thinking that I would like to learn to become a Fanm Sage (midwife). I have had this thought since I was in third grade, but I did not have the money to go to school to learn this skill. When I came to MHI to accompany my sister in law was in labor, I was watching everything the midwives were doing during labor and helping as much as I could. When the midwives noticed how eager I was to learn, they asked if I would want to come regularly to learn and volunteer with the other midwives. I was so happy because my dream of becoming a midwife is coming true. And now I also have the opportunity to learn English. I am very excited for my future. I can’t believe that I get to live out my passion and that is to help women and babies.

I believe in this work so much, I would like to see that everyone is very serious about the care we give at the clinic.