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by Mary Evans

MaryIn November/December of 2015, I had the opportunity to work as a volunteer doula for Dar a Luz Honduras in three public hospitals in three different cities. In each labour and delivery department, I was welcomed by the staff and was able to participate in all aspects of labour, birth and immediate postpartum. It was very evident that Dar A Luz Honduras, runned by Silvia Bahr, had been present in all three hospitals. There were posters about their ‘Campaign For Respectful Birth’ and reminders on the walls about protecting the perineum and avoiding the use of fundal pressure. In one hospital, there were curtains supplied by Dar a Luz which could be closed in order to give labouring women some privacy. In another hospital there were sheets provided by Dar a Luz because there often were not enough sheets for labouring mothers to lie on or under.

I was able to be part of a workshop for nurses given by Dar a Luz at a busy public hospital. It was the first of three parts demonstrating ways to attend to a mother’s physical comfort and emotional needs Continue Reading »

San Felipe DonationsIn December, we were able to take a big box of donated items to one of the public hospitals in Tegucigalpa. There were some medical supplies and lots of sheets, which are always in short supply in the labour and delivery room. The staff was very enthusiastic about receiving these items.

San Felipe Donations2Thanks so much to Shawna Symons for your efforts to organize donations back in Canada and for sending them down to us! Sheets have been very much needed! The neonatolgy department has been very happy about the cpr ambu bags. Thanks to all the people who supported this wonderful action!

by Mary Evans

I have been spending the past two weeks working as a doula at the public hospital in La Ceiba.

The day after I arrived in Honduras, Silvia Bahr, the founder of Dar a Luz Honduras, did an intense training session with me, gave me a tour of the hospital and then I got to work!

Each day I supported mamas in the active phase of labour, through the birthing and early postpartum period and helped breastfeeding get off to a good start.

I am struck by how strong and brave these mamas are, laboring on their own with no pain medication, welcoming any suggestions of things to try in order to make their labors shorter and more comfortable and also by their immense love for their babies. It was a special pleasure to be able to give cuddles to babies whose mamas couldn’t for one reason or another.

What an amazing opportunity it was for me to witness so many births in such a short time, quite a contrast to my usual doula work in Canada. Dar A Luz is doing such wonderful work in Honduras.

We visited the mountain village of Yarrucca to give a pre-natal workshop at the medical clinic there. It was well-attended by mothers-to-be and we were happy to meet with our four student midwives who have made a lot of progress over the past year and have been able to support pregnant and birthing women in their communities.

It is important to have trained birth attendants who can provide good pre-natal care and are able to recognize potential problems in pregnancy. In this region it is especially important because of the large distance that must be travelled to get to the hospital and the fact that in the rainy season, the river can overflow and the entire region can be cut off.

After the workshop, it was fun visiting with all the women and babies and each mama received some baby clothes for their new arrivals.

Each student midwife was given a ring-sling scale for weighing newborns. Often there is no eltricity where the midwives are called to support a birth, so they have to work in the dark. For this reason each midwiwife received a rechargable flash-light, which has been donated through Erin MacAulay thaty have been asking for.to support women to giand flashlights, which has been donated through Erin MacAulay by. It was a very successful morning!

Thanks To Mamas4Mamas!

Dar A Luz would like to send a big thank-you to Erin McCauley for her hard work raising funds through her foundation Mamas4Mamas. Erin paid a visit to La Ceiba to see our programs in action and to bring a generous donation. She also helped assemble gifts for our student midwives in the mountain village of Yarrucca. Funds from Mamas4Mamas help make it possible for us to hold upcoming events in Tegucigalpa. Muchos  Gracias Erin!

Santa Rosa Catharina2Dar a Luz is continuing to work towards improving maternity care in Honduras by initiating a campaign for protective practices in labor and delivery. Beginning October 20th, 2015, a Dar a Luz team is working in the public  regional Hospital Occidente, in Santa Rosa de Copan.

The public hospital in Santa Rosa sees approximately 25 to 35 births a day, making it one of the busiest hospitals in Honduras. Limited government funding restricts the number of beds in the labor and delivery ward to ten. There is no possibility for privacy during delivery, and women often share a bed while laboring. Women in Hospital Occidente deliver their babies either on a bed in the labor ward, or in a delivery chair located in an adjacent room. Continue Reading »

Doula work in Honduras

by Seneca Overduin

DSCN1711I arrived in Honduras at the beginning of September to the coastal city of La Ceiba, the “home base” so to speak, of Dar a Luz. After a concise briefing and orientation with Silvia, I was given a tour of the public hospital in the city centre.

The public hospital in La Ceiba sees about 18 to 22 births a day, and early September is a particularly busy time of year.

Giving birth in the public hopsital of La Ceiba is often a difficult experience for most women, who are prohibited from bringing a friend or partner into the labor room. The hospital staff often demonstrate very little personal care towards the women. First time mothers, women who had never previously delivered a baby in a hospital, or women with previous traumatic birth experiences found the hospital environment particularly overwhelming.

Often there was one woman or girl who appeared to be in more distress than the others, and I would go to her first. Physical comfort measures such as giving massages, warming packs and socks, and water to the women was always greatly appreciated. However, emotional support seemed to be most valuable to the women. I often witnessed the calming effect of merely having a hand to hold, or a few words of encouragement. Because the work is empathy-driven and very physical, my rudimentary Spanish was not too great a barrier.

Over the course of the first week I assisted dozens of women in labor and attended more than ten births. Depending on the day, I would help anywhere from one to six women in a variety of ways.

On weekends, the surrounding area of La Ceiba was at my fingertips: Parque Nacional Pico Bonito, Cayos Cochinos/Bay Islands, and the mangroves at La Union are all easily accessible, beautiful places to find some R&R!

After three weeks, I moved on to the highland city of Santa Rosa de Copan, in Western Honduras.
Santa Rosa is a smaller, more tranquil town set in the mountains. I continued my doula work here at the public hospital. This hospital is physically smaller, but sees more births a day – up to 35 – and there are no curtains between beds, Continue Reading »

IMG_20150529_110842584_HDRby Mary Quaile

On Friday, Silvia, Katharina, and I drove out to a small health clinic near Olanchito. For about 2 hours we wound our way around the feet of the mountains, some covered in thick jungle and some stripped of trees. The town itself was in dry valley down a dusty road lined with some sort of Honduran cactus. The clinic, painted a calming green, sat on the outskirts of town, and as we pulled up beside the building, we were informed that a woman was laboring in the tiny delivery room right at that moment. The woman appreciated the doula support, which Katharina, our midwife from Germany, was able to provide. This clinic serves all the health needs of the community as well as having a delivery room and a maternity clinic. The clinic is only for low-risk pregnancies and sees just about eight births a month.

While the mother was laboring in the room next door, Silvia and I set up the projector and met the nurses who worked at the clinic. Women from the village began to meander in, maneuvering around each other’s pregnant bellies to fill the seats and benches. Silvia’s presentation focused on basics of labor and birth. It started with some essential anatomy with diagrams of what occurs inside a woman’s body during labor and birth. A lot of the women in Honduras lack basic education and some do not even know what the baby grows in or what the placenta is.

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Silvia walked through the hospital experience of birth Continue Reading »

by Mary Quaile

This year for the International Week for Respecting Childbirth (IWRC), Dar a Luz hosted an event at the hospital for the doctors, medical interns and nurses. The goal was to raise awareness of the rights of the mother and child during childbirth in an effort to increase the positive atmosphere of the labor and delivery ward.

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Silvia started with an introduction about the Semana Mundial del Parto Respetada (IWRC) and the importance of respecting the mother and baby during birth.  She pointed out aspects of the national standards of care for mothers and babies, which are often not carried out in the hospitals. For example, though Honduran women have the right to move around freely during labor, they are usually restricted to bed and they are even denied water to drink though that is also part of the Honduran standards of care. Continue Reading »