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.

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