Mayan Midwife Support Program

Midwives in our workshop who received bithing supplies from a partner agency, Direct Relief

There are over 60 rural midwives from remote rural villages who attended monthly workshops to better their skills and to report on the health and well -being of their villages. There are very high infant and mother mortality rates in the region, so Healthy Villages provided ongoing workshops for the midwives. We also organized three day seminars where the midwives could share their skills with visiting health workers and midwives, sharing their knowledge of traditional and natural birthing techniques. We also coordinated the collection of supplies for the midwives, such as latex gloves and other basic supplies for birthing.

Maya Chorti midwives in a workshop we organized on maternal health

Program Goals

Our goal is to address the high infant and maternal mortality rate in the hills of Copan, especially among the Maya Chorti population. There are midwives and community volunteers in most Mayan villages. Most of these midwives have not had the opportunity to go to school, to learn to read, and only have basic training in midwifery. They live in poverty themselves, and volunteer in their communities to help women to give birth in their adobe homes. Before joining our  program, these midwives did not receive any support for supplies, transportation and training, although they offer a valuable service to their remote communities.

Their years of practical experience mean that the Maya Chorti midwives have a great deal of knowledge to offer visiting midwives and medical workers from abroad, resulting in rich cultural exchanges during workshops that we coordinate.
Unfortunately, the living conditions of many Mayan women leads to infection, hemorrhaging and at times death among mothers and infants.  Distance, family obligations and cost prohibit thousands of women from journeying hours down from their mountain villages to give birth in a center under normal circumstances, and so the majority will give birth at home.

It is vital, therefore, that there is a trained midwife available to assist in their birth and to notify the community to help in transporting the woman to a medical clinic if there are complications related to childbirth.

The trained midwife or community volunteer is also indispensable in conducting women’s health education with the women in her village, with dispensing basic information on health issues and in recording statistics from the village and reporting them to the local health clinic.

The Program

  • Midwives and community volunteers meet monthly with our team and share knowledge, receive training, education supplies to bring back to their communities and
    birthing supplies such as latex gloves at each meeting.
  • The midwives and community volunteers in the region  participate in a series of workshops involving cross-cultural exchanges with visiting midwives and medical workers. These workshops cover birthing techniques, sterilization techniques, emergency obstetrical care, nutrition and basichygiene education, family planning, AIDS education and education on basic illnesses.
  • We aim to provide each midwife with the full set of equipment that she needs for attending a birth, including training in the sterilization process. The program identifies the supplies that a midwife needs to provide a sterile birthing environment, even in the most compromised rural environment.