Help Maya Midwives Save Lives in Rural Guatemala

by Wuqu' Kawoq
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Help Maya Midwives Save Lives in Rural Guatemala
Help Maya Midwives Save Lives in Rural Guatemala
Help Maya Midwives Save Lives in Rural Guatemala
Help Maya Midwives Save Lives in Rural Guatemala
Help Maya Midwives Save Lives in Rural Guatemala
Help Maya Midwives Save Lives in Rural Guatemala
Help Maya Midwives Save Lives in Rural Guatemala
Sra. Irma and her heathy baby.
Sra. Irma and her heathy baby.

Here in Guatemala, the pandemic continues to pose a serious threat to both individuals and the health care sector. Only about 3% of the population has received any vaccination and less than 1% is fully vaccinated. Thankfully, our Maternal Mobile Health Program continues to overcome barriers and provide life-saving care to mothers and infants. 

Our midwives, who are trained local Mayans, meet patients where they are at, socially, culturally and importantly physically. They travel to expecting mothers to lead them through home births when possible, and when not, arrange for transport to local hospitals, where our navigators help guide them through the healthcare system. 

This program serves several communities and many women. One recent patient was  23-year-old Doña Irma, who had had a bad experience in the hospital delivering her first child and was planning on delivering her second at home. A midwife attending her at her home noted that Doña Irma was not in labor although she was past 40 weeks pregnant and her water had already broken. The midwife communicated with our emergency team, who coordinated a plan to get Doña Irma to a local hospital for a safer delivery. 

Despite severe rain, we were able to safely transport Doña Irma to the hospital along with one of our navigators. Doña Irma mostly speaks the Mayan language Kaqchikel, which complicates healthcare for her as most Guatemalan doctors only use Spanish. Luckily, navigators from the Maternal Mobile Health Program were there to translate and advocate. 

 Ultimately, Doña Irma avoided a C-section and other complications, and gave birth to a healthy baby. Doña's Irma’s two hospital birthing experiences stand in sharp contrast. With her first child, Doña Irma was in the hospital alone, struggled to communicate with doctors, and felt scared. The second time around, she felt supported, comforted, and was able to better advocate for herself with our navigators’ help. 

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Despite the many obstacles arising during the pandemic, the midwives and navigators in our maternal mobile health program have continued to make house visits to expectant mothers and help them access hospital services when necessary.

Mothers like Doña Rosa, 42, who late into her pregnancy experienced high blood pressure, blurred vision, and headaches. Her midwife had been monitoring her symptoms using our mobile health app and noted that her condition was worsening. She urged her to go to the hospital to check for preeclampsia, which can cause serious problems for both the mother and baby.

Concerned that she would be stopped at one of the COVID barricades in the journey across four communities, Doña Rosa was reluctant to leave home. She agreed to make the trip only after our care navigator offered to accompany her and help negotiate the many barriers.

After a long journey, Doña Rosa delivered her child at the hospital through a cesarean section due to complications from preeclampsia. Throughout, the navigator helped Doña Rosa, who speaks Kaqchikel, communicate in Spanish with the doctors.

When the doctors pressed Doña Rosa to undergo sterilization, the navigator advocated on behalf of her patient, who declined the procedure.

Doña Rosa is now home with her baby and doing well; her blood pressure is under control. From time to time, she calls the maternal mobile health program to express her gratitude. She tells them she saw death flash before her, but now she is ok.

In the Tecpán region where we have piloted our program, maternal deaths among the hundreds of mothers we serve have dropped from eight in 2016, to four in 2017, to zero in 2018, 2019, and 2020.


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Organization Information

Wuqu' Kawoq

Location: Bethel, VT - USA
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @wuqukawoq
Project Leader:
Anne Kraemer Diaz
Bethel, VT United States
$210 raised of $20,000 goal
8 donations
$19,790 to go
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