Amelia’s mother was a community midwife near the Rio Coco river on Nicaragua’s north eastern border with Honduras. She has seen many babies brought into the world with her mother’s help, as well as many tragedies.
Amelia started practising too when she was 22. Amelia is one of sixty seven community midwives who have been trained and equipped by Health Poverty Action to enable them to work more effectively.
A key part of the training is to give pre-natal care to mothers from the community midwives’ own indigenous communities and to encourage mothers to use health centres rather than giving birth at home. They have been trained on safe childbirth and given equipment to allow them to make home births safer where there is no other option.
Their equipment includes scissors, umbilical clamps, neo-natal suction pumps, linen, protective equipment like gloves and aprons and handbooks. Until now, Amelia used a heated machete or sharp bamboo to cut umbilical cords but now finds the sterilised scissors much more effective and hygienic. She used to remove fluids from the newborn’s mouth with her own mouth but now she is able to use neo-natal suction pumps.
Prior to her training, Amelia feared the unknown and the ever present possibility of one of her mothers developing a condition she couldn’t treat. She now feels much more confident, understanding medical conditions such as anaemia and changes in blood pressure, as well as their potential implications for birth. She is also aware of her limitations in assisting with high risk cases and confidently refers women to clinics.
Amelia also feels bold enough to teach adolescents about sexual and reproductive health and encourages men to help their partners recover after birth. Her mother never received any training, but Amelia expresses appreciation to the Health Poverty Action team who taught her new skills and says she thanks God “whose will it was that I got to participate in this great programme”.