by Mary Evans
In 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 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 which in turn can help make her labour shorter and less painful, her birth easier and have a better outcome for both mother and baby. It was very well received by the nurses who attended.
I also had the opportunity to visit a mountain village where Dar a Luz has been working to provide pre-natal classes and also to find and train student midwives who will be able to provide appropriate care for women unable to reach a hospital in order to give birth. It was wonderful to interact with the pregnant women who attended that day’s prenatal class and to be able to provide them with some baby clothes, donated by Dar a Luz. Each student midwife was given a sling scale for weighing newborns, as well.
It is apparent that Dar a Luz is providing valuable education and resources in order to improve birth in Honduras. Birthing women need respectful care, clear information, privacy, a calm birthing environment, education, resources and up to date birth practices. Progress is being made every day but there is still so much to do. Dar a Luz has already improved birth for countless women and with more support and additional resources will be able to expand their programs and help improve birth for all birthing women regardless of where they live and where they choose to give birth.
It was a privilege for me to join hospital staff in caring for labouring and birthing mothers. It is so important to both mother and baby to have a positive birth experience so that they can go on to build strong families and in turn a strong country. I am grateful to Dar a Luz for providing this opportunity and am in full support of their vision for a healthy birth for every mother and every baby in Honduras.