Compassionate Maternity Care

by Amy Nguyen 

Being able to work as a doula with Dar a Luz Honduras has been an incredibly rewarding and eye-opening experience. I have been working at one of the hospitals for the past three days and already have seen how modeling compassionate and respectful care has had a large impact on the maternity ward. As a doula here, this can be through holding hands, giving massages, verbal reassurance, or giving the mothers reminders or suggestions on how to manage the pain, which is especially helpful since no family members are allowed into the unit.  Much of the staff is supportive of the doulas and there are many student doctors here, who can be the ones to bring more compassionate care to all of Honduras.

Dar a Luz is currently producing a video to address human rights during childbirth, respectful maternity care, and obstetric violence. The contents have been approved by the Health Department of Honduras and the video will be distributed to hospitals and health education centers around the country to aid in providing consistency of care.

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Amy, Silvia and Lic. Iris, thanks Amy!

As a doula in a foreign country, I have found that the advice Dar a Luz gives rings true: what is most important is to bring a compassionate and open heart.

– Amy, writing from Santa Lucía, Honduras

Providing valuable education and resourses

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 Continue reading

Hospital Atlantida Gets a Peanut Ball

by Angela Chromik

Dar a Luz recently introduced a Peanut Ball to the staff and birthing mothers at the Atlantida Hospital in La Ceiba. Nicknamed the “cacahuete” (which is peanut in spanish), the common birth tool brought curiosity and smiles to the staff. The peanut ball is especially helpful within the hospital at La Ceiba.

The peanut ball is regularly used when a woman has had an epidural or is too exhausted to move around. In Honduras epidurals are not available in public hospitals, but a peanut ball provides a great support when a woman is on bedrest during labor.

Continue reading

Childbirth Education

by Cassandra West

Fellow volunteer Zoe and myself have been running Dar a Luz birth education workshops for pregnant women in Santa Rosa. There were 30 women at the first workshop we did. In order to help break the ice and foster a warm atmosphere we started with a raffle where people won prizes of baby clothes. This went down well and caused many smiles. We then prayed together, something that deeply resonates with Honduran women here. It was really beautiful. The workshop felt really valuable and provided information that not all of these women were aware of. Some did not know what a placenta was, for example. Having such knowledge helps prevent shock and fear during labor! It was a wonderful experience and we look forward to running the workshop again next week. A wonderful consequence of this work, too, was that some of the women we ran workshops with also ended up being in hospital while we were there. We had already developed a relationship with them and this helped them during labour, fostering a more comforting atmosphere. Such beautiful work Dar a Luz supports here.

Gifts for Mothers and Nurses

Christmas Presents from Shawna

Silvia and Shawna with the gifts that Shawna brought for the nurses in one of the hospitals. Thanks again Shawna for all the wonderful support you gave to women in the hospitals.

In December 2014 we were able to deliver gifts of baby clothes to women in the maternity wards of the hospitals in Tegucigalpa, La Ceiba, and Santa Rosa de Copan. It was especially nice this year to have gifts for the nurses as well!

Doula Workshop for Nurses

by Zoe Paterson

Just before Christmas this year we organized a doula workshop for Doula Training San Felipenurses of the maternity ward of San Felipe Hospital in the capital, Tegucigalpa. This doula workshop was specifically designed by Dar a Luz for nurses working in Honduran hospitals.

A huge thank you to our wonderful friend Anna who taught the class, and brought with her an enormous amount of much-needed medical equipment, and other supplies. Anna stayed for two weeks (over Christmas!) to support laboring women, and to support the nurses’ new skills. A peanut ball, birth ball, pelvis model and baby model have also been donated to the maternity ward.

The Honduran government often does not have the money to adequately pay nurses, let alone pay for labour support staff. In the public hospitals where Dar a Luz works, family members are not allowed to accompany women in labour into the ward, which makes it all the more important that nurses be given the opportunity to learn a supporting role.

Over the four days of the course Anna taught doula essentials that can be combined with regular nursing care to offer a more rounded medical and emotional experience to labouring women. She was able to teach massage for pain reduction, breathing techniques, positions for easier labour, ways to create trust and connection, and introduced and donated birth balls and peanut balls for the hospital’s use. The nurses were able to practice their new skills immediately with the women in labour at the hospital.

Education makes all the difference here in Honduras, and Sylvia is currently planning another trip to Tegucigalpa, this time for a more in-depth seminar for all the nurses of the maternity ward.

Rural Birth Work

bdscn1009y Griet Vandamme

My name is Griet, a midwife from Belgium who spent 7 weeks working for Dar a Luz in Honduras.

I contacted Silvia whilst volunteering in another project in Guatemala. Within a month everything was arranged and I stepped out of the bus in La Ceiba, my first stop.

I am very grateful to Silvia for making it possible to do a lot of different things for Dar A Luz. I worked in a public city hospital as a doula in La Ceiba, I worked in the small mountain village Yarucca training local midwives. I also spent some time in a maternal-infant clinic and healthcare centre close to Copan Ruinás giving information to pregnant girls and women. In between I was able to explore the beautiful Honduras a little more.

But for me the most impressive experience was working and staying for two weeks in La Moskitia, Honduras’ tropical rainforest that also covers a part of Nicaragua. The Miskitos own this beautiful part of Honduras and with their own language Miskito and their cultural habits they try to make the best of their lives. There is no access to basic needs like electricity and running water. This part of Honduras can only be reached by taking a boatride after a long and adventurous ride in a jeep.

The village of Ibans has a centro de salud which became my home for 2 weeks. Continue reading

La Moskitia- Rural Birth Work

by Griet Vandamme

DSCN1184My name is Griet, a midwife from Belgium who spent 7 weeks working for Dar a Luz in Honduras.

I contacted Silvia whilst volunteering in another project in Guatemala. Within a month everything was arranged and I stepped out of the bus in La Ceiba, my first stop.

I am very grateful to Silvia for making it possible to do a lot of different things for Dar A Luz. I worked in a public city hospital as a doula in La Ceiba, I worked in the small mountain village Yarucca training local midwives. I also spent some time in a maternal-infant clinic and healthcare centre close to Copan Ruinás giving information to pregnant girls and women. In between I was able to explore the beautiful Honduras a little more.

But for me the most impressive experience was working and staying for two weeks in La Moskitia, Honduras’ tropical rainforest that also covers a part of Nicaragua. The Miskitos own this beautiful part of Honduras and with their own language Miskito and their cultural habits they try to make the best of their lives. There is no access to basic needs like electricity and running water. This part of Honduras can only be reached by taking a boatride after a long and adventurous ride in a jeep.

The village of Ibans has a centro de salud which became my home for 2 weeks. The centro de salud was located in the centre of the village and perfect for me as a starting point to be able to visit local midwives, pregnant women and new mothers with their babies. Continue reading

Activities of the last three months

The last three months has been full of activities. Besides the continuing doula/labor support provided by us to the women in public hospitals, there has been seminars  and workshops. We could reach to drop down the episiotomy rate in one of the hospitals from 80% to almost 20%, and we could almost stop, in collaboration with a local gynecologist,the highly used fundus pressure method (60%) in one of the hospitals.

We had several seminars over respected birth in different hospitals. We kept on our work with the midwives, and we hold several childbirth education classes. Thanks to everybody who has been involved to make this happen!