Maya Midwives As Social Workers In A Machista Society

In Guatemala, the midwife’s role goes beyond ‘catching babies’


Published:

This is Imelda, the covering midwife at the ACAM Center. She explained that the young mother in the center was only seven months pregnant, but having serious pains.

The doorbell rang late in the afternoon at the ACAM center and a young woman came in. Her swollen belly was visible just under her woven skirt, which was tied above with a hand-loomed belt in a floral multicolored pattern. A small girl, about 18 months old, clung to her mother’s skirt, hiding as I tried to catch her eye. Walking in next to the mother was an older woman, her mother-in-law, and the young father of the 18-month old child. His acne spotted face was grim as he followed his wife and mother-in-law into the consult room.

The family began speaking rapidly in Mam, the local Mayan language. I do not understand Mam, but I could tell that something was very wrong. Imelda, the covering midwife, explained to me that the young mother was only seven months pregnant, but was having pains. She then examined the woman and found that she was already two centimeters dilated. There is more to this story, though. The young mother confided that she had been hit by her husband— he was abusing her verbally and physically.

The most recent abuse had to do with his anger over his wife’s request to help her wash some large, heavy blankets. “I am not a man to do woman’s work,” he replied. He defiantly lashed out in front of all of us: “Hey! If she doesn’t like it, she can leave and I will have another woman by tomorrow.”

Machismo and domestic violence are firmly entrenched in this culture, as it is in so many places around the world. Imelda spoke seriously to the husband, the young mother, and the mother-in-law. “This baby is in danger. You all need to go to the hospital,” Imelda said. Despite questioning Imelda and her diagnosis, the father eventually made some phone calls and they were on their way to the hospital.

Imelda listens carefully to her patient in one of Maya Midwifery’s mobile clinics.After a couple of days, they stopped by the ACAM center on their way home— the young mother still pregnant. The hospital discharged the mother on bed rest and, apparently, the staff had threatened the father with legal action because he was much more subdued and humble during the second visit. Imelda spoke sternly with the husband: “You will cook, clean, wash, sweep, and not allow your wife to do any work, and be sure that she is not stressed. This you must do to be sure that this baby makes it to the full nine months and that this pregnancy is healthy, if not, it is on you if something happens.”

It is humbling to watch these midwives work and to realize the odds they face as women trying to support other women in a machista society. Though I asked about the potential for jail time, it isn’t always the best option here. I was told that when the men get out of jail after several months, they are likely to become even more abusive and the women even more vulnerable. 

The role of the midwife in Guatemala is so much more than just a clinician. People listen to the midwives because they are deeply respected. Their care is holistic and they are a trusted confidant, thus the midwives are often able to get at the root of problems and engage the family in solutions.

As the young mother was leaving the ACAM center, she told Imelda that she wanted her to be there when she had the baby. The young mother deeply appreciated the emotional support she had gotten from Imelda and, at least for now, the relief from an abusive husband that had been chastened by the midwife and the hospital staff.

The goal of Maya Midwifery International is to improve maternal child health outcomes by helping to prepare and sustain local midwives in their communities and helping them to have a voice in local and national policies which affect them.

This article was republished from Maya Midwifery International.

See also:
Dangerous Isolation: Meet The Fearless Advocates Helping Rural Women Escape Abuse
A Kentucky Domestic Violence Shelter Helps Women Grow Food—And Confidence

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Daily Astrology

February 17, 2018

First thing in the morning a tricky angle between Mars and Neptune increases certain risk factors. Inclement weather and poor judgment are among others. Soon after, Mercury’s conjunction with the Sun inspires some to hit the open road. A change of…
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Alternative Health Directory

Browse all listings »

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

February 2018

Two Sundays, January 14th and February 11th Learn advanced techniques for self-care, to offer Reiki to others from a distance and for manifesting what you want in your life! Facilitated...

Cost: $250

Where:
Northeast Reiki Center
61 Nicholas Road, Suite B2
Framingham, MA  01701
View map »


Sponsor: Northeast Reiki Center
Telephone: 508-808-5696
Contact Name: Lou Orsan
Website »

More information

Join us the Second Sunday of the month at the Northeast Reiki Center classroom in Framingham for a Reiki Circle in the Usui Reiki System of Natural Healing. We are a gathering of Reiki...

Cost: Free

Where:
Northeast Reiki Center
61 Nicholas Road, Suite B2
Framingham, MA  01701
View map »


Sponsor: Northeast Reiki Center
Telephone: 508-808-5696
Contact Name: Lou Orsan
Website »

More information

Are you curious about yoga but don't know where to begin? The Intro to Yoga Series is a great place to start your practice. This series will provide a safe, non-competitive and welcoming...

Cost: $90 for series

Where:
YogaLife Institute
6 Chestnut St, Suite A
Exeter, NH  03833
View map »


Telephone: 603-969-8968
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Qigong and tai chi are 2500+ year old healing arts originating in China. These moving meditations offer unique health benefits that western medicine is...

Cost: $11-$15 per class

Where:
Chelmsford Wellness Center
3 Littleton Road, 2nd Floor
Westford, MA  01886
View map »


Sponsor: Cultivating Qi
Telephone: 978-856-8118
Contact Name: Dave Crocker
Website »

More information

January 8 - February 12, 2018 Intuition + Energy Medicine + Energy Psychology = The REAP Healing Method This 6 week certification training course provides you with the understanding and the...

Cost: $695

Where:
Live Online
Comfort of Your Home
, MA
View map »


Sponsor: The REAP Healing Method
Telephone: 978-877-8651
Contact Name: Pamela Dussault
Website »

More information

A guided tour in discovering, confirming and verifying your personality, behaviors and habits. A three part series at the Waltham Public Library Monday, February 5 7:15PM Monday, February 12...

Cost: Free

Where:
Waltham Public Library
735 Main Street
Waltham, MA  02451
View map »


Sponsor: Waltham Public Library
Telephone: 781-314-3429
Contact Name: Louise Goldstein
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Experience the power of singing gospel music with more than 250 others as part of the Mystic Chorale, led by award-winning director and composer, Jonathan Singleton. Join Mystic as we prepare...

Cost: $105

Where:
First Parish Unitarian
630 Mass Ave.
Arlington , MA
View map »


Sponsor: The Mystic Chorale
Telephone: 781-738-1920
Contact Name: Jai Kaur Annamaria
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Please join us at our monthly meetings, second Wednesday each month in Northboro, MA. Stay inspired and create collaborative professional relationships. A welcoming community working for the...

Where:
First Parish Unitarian Church Hall
40 Church Street
Northborough, MA  01532
View map »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Qigong and tai chi are 2500+ year old healing arts originating in China. These moving meditations offer unique health benefits that western medicine is integrating into treatment plans. By...

Cost: $12-$17 per class

Where:
Dragonfly Wellness Ceneter
176 Jackson Road
Devens, MA  01434
View map »


Sponsor: Cultivating Qi
Telephone: 978-856-8118
Contact Name: Dave Crocker
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Led by Deanna Jayne, Authentic Lifestyle Mentor The womb chakra ~ the most sacred place in our physical body, a supreme source of spiritual energy, clarity, and power. When this chakra is...

Cost: $351

Where:
Groton Wellness
495 Main Street
Mill Run Plaza
Groton, MA  01450
View map »


Sponsor: Deanna Jayne
Telephone: 978-449-9919
Contact Name: Amy Ashman
Website »

More information

6 Week Series with Sherri Snyder-Roche Start your year with greater awareness. In Kundalini Yoga, we harness the mental, physical, and nervous energies of the body and put them under the...

Cost: $90

Where:
State of Grace Yoga and Wellness Center
104 East Hartford Ave.
Uxbridge, MA  01569
View map »


Telephone: 508-278-2818
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Lauren Rainbow Limited to 16 students! Be sure to register early! This unique one-day course on mediumship, with medium Lauren Rainbow, is focused on developing heart-centered messages from...

Cost: $150

Where:
Circles of Wisdom
90 Main Street
Andover, MA  01810
View map »


Sponsor: Circles of Wisdom
Telephone: 978-474-8010
Contact Name: Cathy Kneeland
Website »

More information

Spend a cozy winter weekend with colleagues diving into the rich material contained within the Dàodéjīng. While each class builds upon the material covered in the previous...

Cost: $325

Where:
Roots and Wings Yoga and Healing Arts
317 North Main Street
Natick, MA  01760
View map »


Sponsor: Eastern Medicinal Therapies Education Center
Telephone: 617-435-3586
Contact Name: Lauren Paap
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags