If you asked a pregnant woman in Haiti, or any other third world country, what her birth plan entailed, she would give you a blank look followed by the words, “Get the baby on the outside and let me live”. American birth plans, as detailed in my previous post, are unimaginable for these women. They have heard of women who have died during childbirth or of babies that are stillborn. Misperceptions about pregnancy and childbirth abound and are passed from mother to daughter. These same misperceptions are also frequently present in the medical community. During our medical mission trips each year, we work with health care providers to educate about contraception, safe pregnancy and labor care. The more difficult teaching involves compassionate and respectful care of women. Haiti is no different from other countries who have a large portion of the population that are extremely poor and a small elite that are educated. Working hard each day as a physician or nurse caring for hordes of patients often leaves minimal emotional energy left for sympathy.
When I was in Haiti this fall, I had the chance to deliver 20 reusable menstrual pad kits that contained the new “high flow” pad to the birth center of Heartline Ministries. The facility is beautiful while also providing whole woman care for pregnant Haitians. Many of the women in their care have conflicting feelings about pregnancy and use the time of prenatal care to better accept their situation as well as provide for improved bonding after birth. Strengthening Haitian families works to prevent children from becoming orphans – a situation that is all too common in Haiti.
You can learn more about Heartline Ministries here. Our Days for Girls high flow kits were distributed and met with favorable ratings, which is not common when you try something new in Haiti. The following video was made by Troy and Tara Livesay, directors of Heartline Ministries, depicting the birthing experience for a Haitian woman at their center.