The heartbeat of our maternity center is our relationship with our women...Our maternity center sees a lot of joy, we have a lot of fun and witness the miracle of birth over and over. Sometimes it is required of us to dip our cups into a well of sorrow and grieve with people in loss. And this we willingly do because the word midwife means to be “with women” and Christian means to be “like Christ”.
The Maternity Center is a place where expectant mothers can find medical care and support, education, safe and sanitary conditions, and respect for them and their babies.
Heartline Ministries is slowly and diligently working to change this.
Heartline has been working along side the courageous Haitian people in Port au Prince for more than twenty years. Heartline approaches Maternal Health care with a model based in quality care, love, respect, and relationship building. The women that enter the prenatal program are known by name, their stories are known by the midwives that help to see them through a safe pregnancy and delivery.
Heartline Ministries is providing prenatal care, labor and delivery services and postpartum care to the underserved women of Port au Prince.
Women join our Prenatal program at the beginning of their pregnancy and come to our center weekly for monitoring and to receive vitamins, a good meal, and an educational class relating to caring for themselves during pregnancy. After the baby is born, often in our own birthing room, the mother and child move into the Child Development class. This class is designed to teach practical parenting skills to the mothers.
We are seeing healthy babies being born in Haiti and are so blessed to share in this experience with these precious mothers! And just as important we are seeing mothers survive the birthing experience and return home to their family. It is a sad fact that, in Haiti, too many mothers die during or shortly after birth due to lack of simple medical care leaving their children orphaned. In our maternity center we are turning the tide against this terrible trend. It is our belief that the best way to care for orphans is to prevent this from happening.
When women start laboring, they come to the maternity center to deliver their babies. Our full time staff include 2 Haitian RNs and 3 missionary midwives. We are also blessed to have a number of part-time medical and non-medical volunteer staff who work with us to serve our ladies and their babies.
The moms and babies stay with us throughout the entire labor, delivery, and recovery. On the rare occasions when the moms need physician-assisted delivery we will provide transport to and support at the hospital.
After the ladies in our prenatal program have their babies, they begin attending our Tuesday child development classes. Every week Haitian mothers show up faithfully for class. When they arrive their babies are weighed to check for proper weight gain. If a mother is having breastfeeding issues we work with her, encourage her, and give her the information she needs to continue to successfully nurse her baby. Then the women eat a high protein meal together.
After lunch the ladies attend the child development class. We teach about topics relating to parenting, motherhood, womanhood, nutrition, and breastfeeding. We see these classes as very important in empowering women with truth and life-saving information for themselves and their children. In addition to teaching, we also learn a lot from the women about Haitian culture. We teach, but we also listen. When class is over medical care is offered for the women and children who are sick.
We desire to holistically minister to the women and children in our program by giving the gift of knowledge and medical care while incorporating the gospel and God’s love into all of our interactions with the ladies.
Last Thursday, we posted this photo of the classroom on Prenatal Day. More than a few people commented on “yellow shirt girl” in the front row. A few wise bookies and numbers runners even placed bets on yellow shirt to pop next. She can’t even sit up, they astutely noted.
Truth be told, we were all getting impatient. We had a 23 day streak with no births, and had not yet welcomed a baby in 2014. We hoped all you bet makers were onto something.
After class on Thursday all the midwives and nurses went about doing prenatal visits. On Thursdays we yell from room to room, “Hey, come feel this, this is unusual” – or – “You guys, tell me if I am right here, this feels like a breech baby.” The way we go about it is not all that polite, but our leader is Bostonian and we have all assimilated. Her nickname is ‘boombox’. She bellows. We bellow.
Driving moms and their babies home is usually Tara’s job. She loves it. Since she is away for a couple of months, I’ve taken over a few of her jobs. Paperwork, yes, it is a mess. Try as I might, I’m not good at documents, files, due dates, lists, and proper paperwork. From across the electronic miles Tara and Beth C. are working to set it right, but I’m afraid I am hopeless.
I have though, become good at, and am enjoying, driving new families home. I’ve not had an accident with the ambulance, not gotten too lost and I have avoided police stops.
Part of the deal when moms deliver with us is they stay in our post postpartum until they feel ready to go and then we take them home. Home can be a USAID tent, with or without a roof, or a cement house that looks pretty okay. We have women at different economic levels in our program. I’ve noticed that regardless of their economic status our ladies are rich in community. As we wind down a dirt road barely big enough for the vehicle and come to a stop people come out of nowhere. Squeals of delight meet us. The mom and baby are welcomed, hugged, prayed with, hugged again and mom is swept off her feet as she is ushered into the house, be it a tiny cinder block house or a bigger house. Grandma grabs and inspects the baby and declares the child perfect. Siblings grab at the baby while they ooh and aah. There is delight all around. Recently (and I wasn’t on this run, I was back at the maternity center delivering another baby) the whole crowd erupted in worship.
We are asking you to pray for the ladies in Heartline's Prenatal Program.
Prayer is no small thing. For each of these women we know that intersession is powerful and that God must work on their behalf. Some of the soon-to-be moms have suffered from abuse and/or rape. They have trauma to process in addition to the challenges of the pregnancy. The odds are against pregnant women in Haiti. The vast majority of the pregnancies are considered "high risk". As you likely know, the maternal death rate is very high in Haiti as is the infant mortality rate. Every healthy birth at our maternity center is a miracle given the obstacles the women must overcome.
Thank you for lifting up the women and their babies to the only One who knows their every need. Thank you for praying for all of the Heartline staff (pictured at end of this post) as we discern how to best come along side and encourage the women in our programs. We ask you to pray for unusual wisdom in every woman's care and delivery.
These will be updated as new women join the program, and removed as women deliver.