Last year one of our doulas joined a mission group serving new mothers and mothers to be in Haiti. We asked her to share some details of her experience with us and our fellow doulas. You can read her words below. Thank you Diane for sharing with us and blessing other women in need. We are so very proud to call you one of us!
Five nurses and nurse practitioners were planning on a mission trip to Cap Haitien, Haiti in October of 2014. I had been on a number of mission trips, mostly medical (although I am not in the medical field), and very much wanted to go to Haiti. I asked if I could join them! My only experience is in loving children. My husband and I gave birth to 2 sons, adopted 7 children from overseas, and fostered 15 children through the foster care system. The thought of going to a delivery hospital, orphanage, and learning center couldn’t have been more appealing to me. But I was traveling with such learned women, I wanted something special to offer myself. It was suggested I become a doula. I looked online and decided to get my doula certification through Madriella. The material was very interesting and in short time I was officially a doula!
In October the 6 of us, with 40 pounds of extra weight in clothing, books, and medical supplies, boarded the plane for Haiti. We stayed at Mamababyhaiti, a delivery hospital. The women are screened before acceptance and if they can pay for services, it costs $1.00; otherwise it’s free. The women need to come to the hospital monthly for at least 4 months before delivery for prenatal care. They are given vitamins, exams, etc. They attend parenting classes and breastfeeding classes during their prenatal visits. We lived on the second floor of the hospital for the week that we were there. If a woman came in for delivery, we were right there to offer our services! I brought oils and a fan and my walking shoes. I massaged an awful lot of backs that week and fanned whatever body part needed fanning! We walked and walked. One woman stopped her labor altogether and another had to be taken to the hospital downtown because she hadn’t progressed after 24 hours. I was present for 3 deliveries and dressed one of the newborn girls in her first outfit. I painted some new mom’s fingernails in bright colors and oohed and aahed over their new babies. They were so proud and so grateful, too. I don’t know who was more blessed – me or them. In Haiti there is very little electricity. If we were lucky, the generator might come on for a brief period, but more than likely a birth was by flashlight. No air conditioning, no fans, except the one I was using on them! No pain medication. One laboring mom asked me to rub her back (in French, of course) as she faced backwards on the toilet adjoining the “delivery room”. On the edge of the shower sat 4 pots of afterbirth from previous births. Once the baby is born, the baby is checked out and the mother attended to for an hour’s time. After that period she goes to the next room (post delivery) with her baby and is allowed to stay 4 hours. Then she goes home. She will return in one week with her baby to be checked. Also during the week we were in Haiti, we visited an orphanage and a center that has been developed to help moms keep their babies, instead of having to give them up for adoption.
In about 3 weeks I will return to Haiti. I am going with a friend to Port au Prince and we will be visiting an orphanage, a wound and care center and a sick and dying center. I am sure the experience will be awesome and rewarding; however, it can never compare to the miracle of birth. I am so thankful to Madriella for the resources I gained, and though I specifically wanted to be a doula to give free services to third world women, I may be using those resources again here in Texas. I’ve recently been asked to be a volunteer for a pregnancy clinic, and they’re wanting to add a doula to their program.
Sincerely, Diane Nalepa