Delivering babies
category: Jims Guatemala

Howdy everyone! So, as you may know, much of my job here is to teach the locals the importance of preventive health, and how to construct sanitary infrasturcture to improve their chances of evading diseases like cholera and dysentery. Sometimes, however, we get called upon to talk about other health-related topics. Being white and all, everyone thinks were experts at everything. This includes delivering babies.

comadronas.jpgAbout once a month, we give lectures to the regional midwives’ group, as a sort of “opening act” for the doctor’s presentation. We cover basic stuff, like home hygeine, the importance of drinking purified water (to avoid parasites etc.), proper nutrition, and similar things as they affect expecting mothers. Then the doctor gets into nitty-gritty stuff, like how many finger widths down you should cut the umbilical cord.

Our region has the dubious honor of being the most dangerous place in Guatemala to have a baby, in terms of maternal mortality during childbirth. It is also in the top five for infant death during birth. 99% of the births here are in the home, assisted by midwives, many of whom still don’t understand the importance of handwashing. Oh, and these homes all have dirt floors and mud walls.


Our only doctor, Dr. Ervin, has made it his pet project to turn this trend around. That’s why he started this montly educational series. He also mentioned to me at our last meeting that he wants to put together “birthing kits” for each of the 130 midwives in our region. They would contain basic things, like a pair of foreceps, boilable scissors, a plastic sheet to put under the mother during delivery, etc. “Do you know of any way we could get help with this?” he asked me.

Oh yeah, that is my other job. Hooking up those in need with those that want to help. Right now I am working with two NGOs to get funding for two other unrelated projects, as well as my private Computer Center project. But I also know that sometimes hospitals and clinics discard old medical equipment, so I made a flyer to send to all my buddies that are doctors or med students. Then I emailed it to them, knowing they are WAY to busy to read this blog. It’s kindof like “fishing for aid.” I am a terrible salesman/ panhandler, I know, but hopefully the nature of the cause will work to my advantage. If any of you are interested in helping, or know someone who might be, here is the flyer I made in .PDF format. It’s easy to email, easy to print, and explains the project and what exactly we need. If you click on the link, download shoudl start automatically.

Guatemala Midwife Appeal

[ Interesting side note: in the local mayan dialect, a “pregnant woman” is a yob’ix, or literally, “bad female.” All you women’s studies majors, talk amongst yourselves. ]

Posted by: jfanjoy