Respectful Maternity Care for all of Honduras

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by Madison Herel

I am writing from Tegucigalpa, where I have been working as a doula for the past couple of weeks in one of the city’s public hospitals. As a doula with Dar a Luz, my job is to be with women, offering suggestions to manage pain, reminders to relax, and encouragement: sí, sí puede (yes, yes you can).

Thus far, my experience has been incredible; every day I am able to witness the power and strength of these mamas and the endless love they have for their babies. For these women, who must labor alone (as family are not permitted on the unit), sometimes the most powerful way to help is also the most basic; holding hands, making eye contact, and  gentle reassurance goes a long way. Dar a Luz held seminars for doctors, nurses, and students teaching these simple but effective techniques focused on respectful maternity care and human rights during child birth.

One morning, after arriving at the hospital, a resident doctor, who attended one of these seminars in January, greeted me by telling me how earlier that morning he sat and talked with a frightened woman in efforts to calm her. He was happy to inform me that it worked! While this may seem like a small gesture, this is a huge accomplishment in a health care system that often lacks personalized care and interactions between patients and staff are limited.

In an effort to continue to change the birthing experience for women in Honduras and protect the rights of women across the country, Dar a Luz is involved in a variety of different projects on both the local and national scale. Through classroom and workshop training, Dar a Luz trains hospital staff in safe birthing practices and compassionate care. Through volunteers in the hospital, Dar a Luz supports laboring women directly and further enforces the clinical skills taught in seminars. Finally, through collaboration with the Health Department of Honduras, Dar a Luz will be able to solidify many of these safe birthing practices into a Nation Wide Campaign, and hopefully into law.

For those hoping to one day work with Dar a Luz, the organization is also in the midst of planning a 10-day women’s retreat. Participants will have the opportunity to support a number of different socially-oriented projects, gain invaluable experiences, and explore this beautiful country.

I have learned so much in the two shorts week that I have been here and I am looking forward to all that is to come!

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