My Experience in Honduras

Emma Dorsey and Carmen BarcelonaEmma Dorsey and Carmen Barcelona

I trained to become a doula with Brooklyn Young mother’s collective in September 2010.  At that time I had no intent on offering my doula services in Honduras but as the months passed I researched my Summer options.  Out of curiosity I wondered if there were any doulas in Honduras.  My internet search led me to Dar a Luz headed by a bold and ever so loving, Silvia Bahr.

I immediately emailed her and expressed my interest in working with her organization.

Although, I had trained for several months with BYMC, this would be my first time assisting
women in labor.  Needless to say I was nervous when I headed towards Doña Dunia’s home in La Ceiba.  I arrived around 9 and I knew that later that same day I would be heading to the newly constructed hospital to assist women in labor.  I was told that Emma, the other doula, who was also staying with la Doña would be there waiting for me.  Meeting Emma was more than reassuring.  We already had quite a few things in common which made for easy conversation.  She eased my nerves by simply being a cool woman to be around.

At the hospital, I wasn’t sure how to proceed at first.  I relied heavily on my experience in prenatal massage but at some point I knew I
would have to say something to these women. Seeing as I’m not a woman of many words I observed Emma’s interactions
with the women.  Following her cue I began to offer words of encouragement. Emma was great with verbal support, when the mother’s –to-be yelled “ No lo aguanto! no lo aguanto!”   She would hold their hand and respond in her soft voice with either  “Tu si puedes”   “Hacerlo por el amor de su bebé”  “Aqui estoy por ti.”    Her presence was steady, fierce and reassuring.

I followed Emma’s suit with similar phrases.  When I ran out of words of encouragement I massaged and encouraged the women to move into more comfortable
positions.  There were also plenty of occasions when my hands never left their sacrum.  I often wondered if I would ever get my hand back but if there is one thing that I’ve learned is that when a woman in labor tells you to keep your hands where they are, you listen, don’t even attempt to deviate from the position.

I assisted as many women as I could through labor but I only supported 4 births (1 of which was a C-section.  I wasn’t allowed into the room for that one).  When all was said and done, the women shared their gratitude as I passed by them nursing their newborns.  “Te me ayudaste  (You helped me)” I reminded them that they
were the ones that did all the hard work and I was lucky enough to be there for them.  There really was no complete end to my days in the labor ward because as we all know babies are born every minute.  I often left the hospital wishing I could stay for the entire duration of labor for many of the women who I befriended.  I heard plenty of their life stories and became very close to quite a few of the women.  This was truly an experience of a lifetime and I am extremely grateful for it all.

As a Honduran- American I am especially proud that my first births were in my parent’s homeland.  Thank you to Dar a luz for being there for the women of Honduras.

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