Celebrating Midwives in Haiti by Emily Rini

This Saturday morning started out as many others do. I woke up, got dressed, ate breakfast, and drank coffee. Except this Saturday morning wasn’t like the others.

Today, I was in Haiti with Every Mother Counts, a small group from Stella & Dot, and a film crew that was on a mission to document our journey. As a Stella & Dot Stylist, I’ve been invited to experience first-hand the work that Stella & Dot and Every Mother Counts has been accomplishing in partnership with Midwives for Haiti. These organizations work collectively to bring maternal healthcare to even the most rural of areas, providing women with access to clinics, midwives, safe medical practices, education, transportation, empathy, respect, and so much more. And today, we were going to be down in the trenches.

After breakfast, we drove from Mirebalais to a remote community in the central plateau of the town of Cabestor. We wanted to experience the average five mile journey an expectant mother takes to get to the Midwives for Haiti’s Carrie Wortham Birth Center. The unpaved, winding road was hilly, rocky, and in some places impassable without passing through deep water — truly unforgiving not to mention the 90+ degree heat. But the Haitian people were just the opposite. Don’t get me wrong, they seemed a bit confused by these foreigners running down the road. But they welcomed us anyway, with bright smiles, curious waves, and the occasional “bounjou!” There was a friendly energy on this surprisingly busy road.

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Looking back, I now realize it was market day with activity everywhere. I couldn’t help but think about the many women who have travelled this very road when it wasn’t so busy. Maybe at night, maybe after their water had just broken, or maybe even for a post-partum visit with their little bundle of joy in tow. How crazy to think this was the norm. I was immediately humbled by the thought.

When we arrived at the birth center, we met the founders, volunteers, midwives, and toured the facility. Then, we were off to accompany the midwives on their home visits. We travelled to a hillside home for a check-up of a mother who had given birth at the center last week. It was about a half mile very uphill hike. The mother and baby seemed happy and healthy, thanks to the staff & facilities at the birthing center.

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At the second home, we learned this mother had given birth at home with an untrained birth attendant. This was possibly due to the fact that her home was on a steep hill on the side of a mountain with narrow, winding, and very muddy paths. It was truly daunting for our able bodied group to navigate; I can’t even imagine going through labor at the same time. Once the midwives assessed both the mother and child, they decided both should come back to the birth center to give the newborn additional care and clean the baby’s umbilical cord which looked infected. So, off we went down the mountain, all twenty of us, to bring this baby to the help he needed.

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I was immediately overcome with the notion of “it takes a village to raise a child.” Never has that rung so true to me. In a modern, tech-advanced society where distance is no longer a barrier, our village is now the world. The global community is now our village. And it’s our responsibility to raise, educate, protect, and love these children, these babies of our world. It starts with their mothers. It spreads through their communities. And it reaches our world. Bringing safe maternal healthcare options to these women is the same as saying, “you matter, you are important, you count, we love you.” And how can that not make the world, our village, a better place?

Emily Rini is an Independent Stella & Dot Stylist. She and her husband have one son and live outside of New Orleans, LA.

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