Monday, June 18, 2012

pre-natal classes.

life is so full right now. it's overflowing with work and busy-ness and amazingly good things that have been a long time in the workings. when i moved to this country, i had no idea what was in store for me - and my first experiences were disastrous. i knew that i wanted to work in education and that i wanted to work in impoverished communities. what did that look like? no idea.

over the years, i started to pinpoint where my strengths and interests were and made plans. oh, did i make plans. but it wasn't time yet. but, in the past few months, things have started to come together and this time in our lives has been amazing. there's not enough hours in the days for everything, but it seems like nobody in our family is lacking - we have priorities and strategies to make sure we don't stray too far from what we think is important to us.

in a month, i'll begin a commitment with a school offering education in a neighborhood where many children don't even have birth certificates. and i've been working with the midwives, and there's another project in the works to create employment and skills-training for women. it's intense. but so fulfilling.

just two weeks ago, i started pre-natal education class in the neighborhood. soon i'll give all my faithful readers some of the socio-economic information from the area (but right now we're still surveying). money is pretty-tight/non-existent. but that doesn't mean that women are not entitled to know what is happening to thier bodies, what to expect from labor and delivery or how to care for their newborns. we saw a need, and are working to fill it. we want women educated about their bodies and how to best care for them.

we had six ladies at the first class, where we talked mostly about nutrition - anemia is rampant, so we wanted to talk about how to combat that.
the average age of the women was 19. the minors (under 18) were "first time moms" but the other three had already given birth to at least one other child.
the average gestational age was 6 months - and in the second class, where we had 10 ladies, 7 were 5 months pregnant, but one was just waiting to go into labor.
these mamas are excited. but they're scared as well. nobody has ever really told them what happens during birth. and no one could really explain why c-sections were so prevalent here (especially in the private clinics).
when we looked at pictures of uterus' and vaginas, they were like kids in a candy store. they had never been shown what their "lady parts" look like. they were in awe of how it all works together to grow and birth a baby.

all of these women are planning to exclusively breastfeed. we are out of the area of women who can afford a can or two of milk a week and believe that breastfeeding is a nuisance but are in a population that understands their economic situation could kill a child if it weren't for breastmilk.

i've been really inspired by the mujeres so far. for having little to no education about themselves and how their bodies work, they are doing their best to keep these bellies healthy - and i have high hopes that they were do their best to keep the babies healthy outside of the womb as well.



Gina Clark said...

You go girl! Looks like you are doing a prety good job at all of that. If anyone can do it- its you!!!

melanie. said...

thanks gina!

Erin said...

I love that you're doing this. I think you will find it to be very rewarding to provide such a needed service to benefit women. Kudos to you, Twinkie!

Kendra said...

Hey Melanie! I'm not sure if you got my text MSG so I wanted to write here as well. I'm a friend of rose marberry - I studied w her here 6 yrs ago and am back for a visit to work at a hogar for Ninos in Santiago on a few projects. I have a girl in mind who would really benefit from prenatal classes and would love to talk to you more about that. My cell here is 809 301 1665 or you can email at harrisonkd at gmail. I leave fri morn so hopefully we can connect before then. Thanks!

Whitney said...

Hi there! I'm a Canadian girl - 4.5 months pregnant - moving down to the Dominican. I think what you're doing is fantastic! I was just wondering if you had an answers about why c-sections are so prevalent in the DR? And if you had any contacts or recommendations for me - looking for someone to help with natural birth in the north coast? Thanks!