A doula is a childbirth assistant who provides informational, physical and emotional support before, during, and shortly after labor. These women are a growing trend and necessity in the United States and the western world. But what about Swaziland?
Before my OB friend, Dr. Bob introduced the idea of doula to RFM, the medical staff had never heard of or worked with a doula. After some months of me doula-ing in the ward, the idea was catching.
Why Does Swaziland Need Doulas?
Honestly y’all, you might be appalled if you walked into the Labor Ward. It’s an open area, with 3 short (pushing) beds about 2.5 feet away from each other. No screens. No walls dividing. So if you delivered here, you would have 2 other strangers laboring and pushing (naked) beside you. By the time you enter the labor Ward, you’d be expected to know about contractions, bloody shows, how to push and anything else that goes along with it. But you live in a country with limited literature describing these aspects of birth in your native tongue. The clinics you visit for prenatal education are overcrowded and understaffed, so the nurses don’t have time to answer your questions, nor is it really acceptable for you to HAVE questions to ask. You need to know things, but your girlfriends and best case scenario an experienced mom will probably tell you “it hurts” and “the baby comes out here,” with some gesturing. You’ll watch your belly grow and wonder if you’ll be one of other women whose baby is delivered in a khumbi (minibus), or at 11 months, or without medical assistance because the ambulance wasn’t available.
In my time as a doula, I found one of the most influential components to my work was knowledge. With knowledge and no doula, clients would report:
Thank you so much. The birth was great. I wasn’t afraid. I remembered what you told me, so when the contractions came regulary, I went to the hospital. Everything was good! It happened just like you said it would!
And tiny bundles would be presented to me with requests for information about breastfeeding.
If there was limited knowledge, but a doula present during labor, at best she’d have a companion who could translate what the nurses said in layman’s terms, give her water, tell her what “you’re 6 cms” means along with other invaluable information and encouragements. With knowledge, i watched scared girls transform into focused warrior-moms. With knowledge comes empowerment. The birthing room is no different.
Why THIS Program Will Change Things
I’m so excited that Siphilile and I met! Our vision for this project would flop without the right women as doulas. We need women with compassion, education, resolve, and understanding of birth. Ideally we need women who know how to teach and counsel someone, build trust and already do this in some capacity in their lives.
Siphilile’s mentor mothers are each given a section of town to cover, 1 month of training, and a backpack with a scale in it. Each day they visit families, screen for Tb, assess malnourished children; educate about health and hugiene, safe sex and pregnancy nutrition. In short, the mentor mothers are doulas on steroids who just never make it into the labor Ward. . . Until now!
I could not have dreamed of a more perfect organization or group of women to vanguard this project!
We have raised 35% of our yearly budget. Keep in mind this will employee 12women part time for a year! We only need $5,520 more! 😳
✔️ Have you or did you have access to helpful childbirth education classes? Please consider giving that same opportunity to Swaziland’s women. (Doulas heavily educate mothers on nutrition, pregnancy, labor, delivery, and carrying for a newborn.)
✔️ do you wish you’d had access to helpful childbirth education classes?? Consider helping these women.
✔️Was your doula invaluable at your delivery? Could you share that chance with countless women who cannot provide that themselves?
✔️ Wish you’d heard of a doula when you had kids? Now you have! Consider donating so, others have that chance!
You can donate by:
1. sending a tax deductible check to: Manna Global Ministries; PO Box 9240; Riviera Beach, FL 33419
– write the check to: Manna – Swaziland; please include a sticky note that says, “Doula Project”
2. clicking the link “Donate” on the sidebar of this page. Please note Paypal charges a 3% processing fee and is not tax deductible
I look forward to connecting with many of you while we’re in the States in 10 days!😄🎉