Get Karen To Haiti: "When Disasters Strike, Pregnant Women Shouldn’t Always Be At The Back Of The Line"

I was recently approached by Birth Swell‘s Hilary Boucher, who asked me if I’d be interested in promoting a fundraising effort to support Circle of Health International (COHI) in sending a certified nurse midwife (CNM) to volunteer her services in Haiti. As a doula, childbirth educator and a mother, I am thrilled at the chance to share this inspiring campaign with all of you.

Karen Feltham  — a CNM and nursing instructor at Binghamton University in New York — traveled to Fond Parisien, Haiti just four weeks after the January 12th, 2010 earthquake devastated the small country, to support pregnant and labouring women at a local birth center. Two years later, Karen is returning to Haiti, where she will spend ten days at the HCM Maternity Clinic, working alongside the two local midwives who currently serve over 2000 women each year.

The wonderful midwives at HCM provide high quality care for the women who come to them, however, outcomes for both mothers and their babies could be improved with additional training and support. During Karen’s visit, she will provide peer-to-peer support to the two local midwives, and will work toward three specific goals:

  • Review existing protocols for managing emergencies and deciding when to transfer to the local hospital. Provide clinical support and skill-building where it could improve outcomes for Haitian women and their babies.
  • Run emergency drills using improved protocol for complications most likely to be seen at the clinic, including shoulder dystocia and postpartum hemorrhage.
  • Improve monitoring processes so that the clinic can evaluate their existing protocols and make improvements based on evidence, not just anecdotal understanding.

Circle of Health International is an organization with the mission of working with women and their communities in times of crisis and disaster to ensure access to quality reproductive, maternal and newborn care. COHI has sponsored Karen’s second visit to Haiti and is now working to raise the necessary funds to cover her transportation (approx. $800 in airfare and local travel) as well as room and board (approx. $300).

In an online campaign, organized by Birth Swell, bloggers are coming together to share this incredibly worthwhile cause. Here’s how you can help:

During a recent Q&A, Karen said, “I have great faith in the process of birth, and have been really rewarded by that faith.” This is an ideal which speaks to my heart, and I know that her time in Haiti will be of great value to so many women.

Every bit counts, mes amis! Thank you so much for your support.