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