News from the Edge

Circle of Pregnancy: A 2nd successful event!

Recently the second Circle of Pregnancy activity was held that included wives AND husbands! As you may remember, last year was the first time that the men were included in this educational activity. ASOSAP is committed to reducing maternal and infant death, which in all of Guatemala, is the highest here in Alta Verapaz. Often men don’t want their wives to go to prenatal medical check ups or to the hospital, which can be deadly. Our hope is that including men in this education will help to reduce maternal and infant death. Having men involved goes against tradition, but this is one situation where it produces a very positive change.

Traditionally, in Pokomchi villages, all the women know that their spouses will not be present during childbirth. All the men know that they are not needed or expected to be present at this time. Men are not taught to give special care to their wife throughout pregnancy and women accept this as normal. This norm is passed along generation to generation.  However, having men involved during the pregnancy and childbirth can save lives. This is the case, because the culture of male chauvinism, where the male is believed to be superior, is very prevalent in Guatemala. Often men won’t listen to their wives. When the women attend ASOSAP pregnancy education sessions, they are informed afterwards, but the men are not. The women know that their husbands will not listen to the new information and they don’t share it with them. When men hear in person, from professionals, about all that women experience during pregnancy and childbirth and all the risks involved, they listen and are more apt to support and care for their wife throughout the pregnancy, including in going to their prenatal check ups and to the hospital when necessary. This makes a difference between life and death.

ASOSAP also encourages men to attend the childbirth. For a woman, having the man present is very beneficial to her, it provides much needed physical and emotional support. For a man, it is a very eye opening experience seeing what women go through during childbirth and encourages further involvement with caring for their child and their spouse. It was exciting to do this activity again with pregnant women and their husbands who had yet to hear this life changing information! They would learn how to maintain a healthy pregnancy, avoid complications, and what to do if complications present. Also taught was the importance of family planning and to value the work of midwives.

The activity was a three day event and all ASOSAP staff and local Ministry of Health Nurses were on board to help out! First was those served by the Pampacche health post, second those served by the La Providencia health post. The third day was just for the traditional midwives (comadronas). Traditionally they are always present during childbirth and their assistance is essential. Between the three days, 58 pregnant women, 10 husbands, and 19 midwives attended!

Conzuelo, and the health post Nurses: Alicia and Miguel, taught about the role and work of the midwife in caring for the pregnant mother and child. They also shared how much the midwives contribute financially to do this care and encouraged fair payment of midwives, which in the past hasn’t occurred. The husband’s role in caring for his wife during the pregnancy and the childbirth was explained.  Many myths exist surrounding pregnancy and childbirth and these were dispelled.The realities and danger signs/emergency situations were discussed as well. Also, what family planning is and its purposes were talked about. It was emphasized that it allows the family to ensure they are financially ready for children, decide how many children they want, and the space between each child. The session with the midwives served to strengthen their knowledge and encourage them, so that they are able to continue to give high quality care to pregnant women and their families and avoid complications in pregnancy and childbirth.

Besides education, there were games to break the ice and to have fun and communion with other people who are expecting a child. The game of dressing baby dolls blindfolded was especially popular and brought many laughs, especially when the husbands were participating! Also, baby clothes and diapers were gifted. The families and midwives were also served a healthy lunch. They all were very grateful for the activity. Many greetings and thanks were given as they left the activity. They left happy, well nourished, and with a lot of new information to think about! They shared some of their thoughts with us and we want to share this with you! Below are some of their impressions of the activity.

A Wife:

This is my first time participating in this activity, because this is my first child. I had no idea what was going to happen in this activity, but from being here I learned what I need to do to take care of my body and my children and value the work of the midwife. What was most impactful to me was learning that my husband should accompany me during my childbirth. For me, this news was very surprising because my mother has always told me that I should give birth with just the midwife present. For me it is difficult to take in this new process. Sadly my husband is not here to hear this himself, but I hope to share this information with him and tell him that he should be part of this and help me during the birth. I hope that he is understanding and is there when the moment for me to give birth arrives.

A Husband:

The teaching that we have received is about how we should take care of our wives, and the care that they should have during childbirth. This is what I understood, that it is very important to take care of my wife and now I just need to do this for her.

A Wife:

For me, attending this teaching session is a great opportunity. Everything that they came to teach us about pregnancy is very beautiful and it is important that we put into practice the knowledge that we received. Also, I am very grateful because they involved our husbands in this activity, so that they can obtain knowledge about pregnancy. Thank you ASOSAP for this teaching session.

A midwife:

Thank you for the teaching session that ASOSAP came to share. All of these teachings are for our good, so that we can acquire more knowledge about how to care for our patients. When I started caring for patients, I didn’t have very much knowledge about caring for them. With ASOSAP’s help, we have moved forward in acquiring more knowledge.