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

May 30, 2017

A quiet inner certainty enhances hopes during the early morning hours. Well wishes for friends and partners are capital in karmic bank accounts. Send out all the positive thoughts and good vibes you can muster. As midday approaches the Leo Moon tests…
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Alternative Health Directory

Browse all listings »

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

May 2017

January 14 - December 9, 2017 With Tom Frederick Novice — This 12-month program is designed to assist you on your journey to spiritual enlightenment. Here we study a variety of esoteric...

Cost: $1300

Where:
Women of Wisdom
118 Washington Street
North Easton, MA  02356
View map »


Sponsor: Women of Wisdom
Telephone: 508-230-3680
Contact Name: Women of Wisdom
Website »

More information

Sunday Reiki treatments with Reiki master and practitioner Linda Simons in Brookline, MA. Start your week off on a more balanced note with a Reiki treatment on a Sunday afternoon. Please join me...

Cost: Sliding Scale $20-$40

Where:
233 Harvard Street
Suite 36
Brookline, MA  02446
View map »


Telephone: 617-304-2205
Contact Name: LInda Simons
Website »

More information

You can sit with your favorite medium and get a message from your loved ones in spirit and experience the relaxation of Spiritual Healing with one of our trained healers (pets also welcome!) We...

Where:
Arlington Masonic Temple
19 Academy Street
Arlington, MA
View map »


Sponsor: Greater Boston Church of Spiritualism
Telephone: 617-923-4334
Website »

More information

Prayer for Peace — Lao-Tse If there is to be peace in the world, There must be peace in the nations. If there is to be peace in the nations, There must be peace in the cities. If...

Cost: Donation / heart offering

Where:
HeartSong Spiritual Wellness
23 Pine Street
Milford, MA  01757
View map »


Sponsor: HeartSong Spiritual Wellness Center
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

January 14 - December 9, 2017 With Tom Frederick Novice — This 12-month program is designed to assist you on your journey to spiritual enlightenment. Here we study a variety of esoteric...

Cost: $1300

Where:
Women of Wisdom
118 Washington Street
North Easton, MA  02356
View map »


Sponsor: Women of Wisdom
Telephone: 508-230-3680
Contact Name: Women of Wisdom
Website »

More information

Qigong is an amazing practice for health, healing and inspiration. Qigong is a series of flowing and repeated movements, stretches and breathing exercises that are very easy to learn and may be...

Cost: Drop in $20 or purchase series card

Where:
The Yoga Depot
17 Depot Square
Lexington, MA  02420
View map »


Sponsor: BodyWork Revolution
Telephone: 781-372-1000
Contact Name: Steve Cunningham
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

January 14 - December 9, 2017 With Tom Frederick Novice — This 12-month program is designed to assist you on your journey to spiritual enlightenment. Here we study a variety of esoteric...

Cost: $1300

Where:
Women of Wisdom
118 Washington Street
North Easton, MA  02356
View map »


Sponsor: Women of Wisdom
Telephone: 508-230-3680
Contact Name: Women of Wisdom
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

January 14 - December 9, 2017 With Tom Frederick Novice — This 12-month program is designed to assist you on your journey to spiritual enlightenment. Here we study a variety of esoteric...

Cost: $1300

Where:
Women of Wisdom
118 Washington Street
North Easton, MA  02356
View map »


Sponsor: Women of Wisdom
Telephone: 508-230-3680
Contact Name: Women of Wisdom
Website »

More information

Let's connect to the deck... Do you have the desire to understand and get a deeper sense of your readings? Learn how to read for yourself and others. Clear your cards, enhance your intuition...

Cost: $40 (Additional $16 for an angel card deck if you need)

Where:
YOUnity Yoga & Wellness
189 Main Street
4th floor
Milford, MA  01757
View map »


Telephone: 508-478-3333
Website »

More information

Weekly yoga classes with Rev. Michelle Caron, RMT, CYT, ZIN of Harmony Way on Wednesdays at 12:15 PM and Fridays at 9:30 AM at the Wilbraham Senior Center. Class welcomes all ages and uses a...

Cost: $5

Where:
Wilbraham Senior Center
45 Post Office Park, #4502
Wilbraham, MA  01095
View map »


Sponsor: Harmony Way
Telephone: 413-636-2475
Contact Name: Rev. Michelle Caron, RMT, CYT, ZIN
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

January 14 - December 9, 2017 With Tom Frederick Novice — This 12-month program is designed to assist you on your journey to spiritual enlightenment. Here we study a variety of esoteric...

Cost: $1300

Where:
Women of Wisdom
118 Washington Street
North Easton, MA  02356
View map »


Sponsor: Women of Wisdom
Telephone: 508-230-3680
Contact Name: Women of Wisdom
Website »

More information

Brookhaven Hospice is looking for alternative therapy volunteers (Reiki, massage, aromatherapy, and more) to volunteer with patients in various cities around MA and NH. Trainings to become a...

Cost: Free

Where:
, MA

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

January 14 - December 9, 2017 With Tom Frederick Novice — This 12-month program is designed to assist you on your journey to spiritual enlightenment. Here we study a variety of esoteric...

Cost: $1300

Where:
Women of Wisdom
118 Washington Street
North Easton, MA  02356
View map »


Sponsor: Women of Wisdom
Telephone: 508-230-3680
Contact Name: Women of Wisdom
Website »

More information

Get to really know yourself from the inside out. Join us for a 6-session series focused on the energy body/chakras (pronounced, chah-krahz). We will spend each of the sessions exploring one of the...

Cost: $20

Where:
HeartSong Spiritual Wellness Center
23 Pine Street
Milford, MA  01757
View map »


Sponsor: HeartSong Spiritual Wellness Center
Website »

More information

June 2 - 4, 2017 Being The Light – A Weekend Retreat To Empower Your Spiritual Light With Leontine Hartzell Retreat runs June 2, 2017 4pm to June 4, 2017 2pm. Cost $380 - $395...

Cost: $380 - $395

Where:
White Mountains of NH
, NH


Sponsor: Eye of Eagle
Telephone: 978-377-8948
Contact Name: Leontine Hartzell
Website »

More information

June 2 - 4, 2017 Energy Healing - Life Healing - Psychic/Intuition Development - Live Your Best Life! Are you ready to flow into the next leap in consciousness in the most powerful way?...

Cost: $435

Where:
Our space
42 Fox Hill Rd
Framingham, MA  01701
View map »


Telephone: 919-605-0580
Contact Name: Angela Coulter
Website »

More information

Weekly yoga classes with Rev. Michelle Caron, RMT, CYT, ZIN of Harmony Way on Wednesdays at 12:15 PM and Fridays at 9:30 AM at the Wilbraham Senior Center. Class welcomes all ages and uses a...

Cost: $5

Where:
Wilbraham Senior Center
45 Post Office Park, #4502
Wilbraham, MA  01095
View map »


Sponsor: Harmony Way
Telephone: 413-636-2475
Contact Name: Rev. Michelle Caron, RMT, CYT, ZIN
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

With Ross J. Miller, psychic healer, medium, regression therapist. In this unique, experiential workshop you’ll learn how to identify your guardian angels and spirit guides by name and...

Where:
Newton, MA


Telephone: 617-527-3583
Website »

More information

January 14 - December 9, 2017 With Tom Frederick Novice — This 12-month program is designed to assist you on your journey to spiritual enlightenment. Here we study a variety of esoteric...

Cost: $1300

Where:
Women of Wisdom
118 Washington Street
North Easton, MA  02356
View map »


Sponsor: Women of Wisdom
Telephone: 508-230-3680
Contact Name: Women of Wisdom
Website »

More information

Workshop with Liane Thomas Wade Registration: 12:15 - 12:30 PM Workshop: 12:30 – 4:30 PM The National Council for Geocosmic Research (NCGR) is a non-profit international astrological...

Where:
Beech Street Center
266 Beech Street
Belmont, MA
View map »


Sponsor: The National Council for Geocosmic Research
Telephone: 617-354-7075
Contact Name: Joyce Levine
Website »

More information

Reiki Master Teacher Libby Barnett, M.S.W., integrates her healing skills with past experience as a medical social worker at Massachusetts General Hospital. 38 years experience Reiki Energy...

Where:
Concord, MA


Telephone: 603-654-2787
Website »

More information

June 3 - 4, 2017 Have you hit a “ceiling” in your life (or your healing practice)? Then this is what you've been waiting for! This two-day Level 1 Marconics...

Cost: $450

Where:
Suffield Massage Therapy & Wellness Center
230 Mountain Rd
Suffield, CT  06078
View map »


Sponsor: Marconics / Your Healing Light
Telephone: 774-987-9449
Contact Name: Josh Brotherton
Website »

More information

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