Friday, February 24, 2012

Visiting Heartline

This week Haiti is celebrating Karnaval, so we have a week off school. On Tuesday I went with my good pal John Ackerman to visit Heartline, an awesome ministry to moms and babies.

Heartline had about fifty Haitian women in their prenatal program. They come every Thursday for a checkup, a protein-intensive meal, and an educational lesson. There are another several dozen women in the post-natal program. Until their babies are six months old, they come every Tuesday for a similar program of a special protein meal and education. The babies are weighed, mothers' blood pressure is checked, and they all have a chance to see Dokte John if they feel their baby is ill.
Tuesday's group lesson started with a breastfeeding pep talk from Beth. The major lesson Heartline preaches, over and over again, can be boiled down to two words:

Tete selma! (Only breast!)

There are a lot of cultural beliefs here that discourage exclusive breastfeeding. Many women believe that healthy babies need breastmilk plus juice, that breastfeeding attracts snakes, or that if your baby gets sick while breastfeeding then you must have bad breastmilk.
Fat, happy breastfed babies :)
The topic of Tuesday's talk was domestic violence, anger, and stress.
After the talk I sat in with John as he saw babies. He let me listen to the stethoscope to hear what pneumonia sounds like.
Some babies were sick. Some babies were not sick. One mother complained of her baby crying, but it turned out to be just normal gas. One mother complained of her baby having a fever, but it turned out the baby was probably just too hot and needed less clothes.
There was one really serious situation that I'd like your prayer for. A teenager mother in the program had her baby following a rape. Now the baby has hydrocephalus and his head is visible swollen with water. He may need a surgery to put in a shunt. But how to accomplish that, in this already-complicated situation? So many obstacles. Heartline deals with that sort of difficult situation all the time.
Giant, bear-like mastiffs roam the halls. They belong to the leader of the program. Let's get real.... they make me nervous. Remember how my puppy weighs 1.4 pounds? This bull weighs over 150 lbs.
I got to snuggle a baby while the mother was being treated for mastitis, which is an infection you can get in your breast while breastfeeding. I'm sitting on the bed in the birthing room. All the ladies who go through the prenatal program get to deliver with trained midwives (and sometimes nurse midwives or doctors when they are in town) in this room. It's a far cry better than wherever they might otherwise be delivering. There are neat items to help in delivery- a birthing stool, a swing that supports the upper body, a big exercise ball. In addition, they can give oxygen, weigh the baby, track fetal heart rate, and more.

It was an awesome day. I love learning about women's health. I love this program, and how lovingly and practically it meets a dire need for maternal health in a country where, in some areas, infant mortality is 50%. I love watching John and Tara and Melissa and Beth love on these ladies.

I wish every Haitian baby got to be a Heartline baby.

Katie

P.S. Want to learn more about Heartline? Go here.
Want to buy a purse that support this ministry? Go here.

P.S.S. I recently knew someone who had a baby shower and asked for donations to Heartline. Such a beautiful idea- blessing other babies while you prepare for your own. Want to donate? Go here.

1 comment:

  1. I recently made a purchase at markethaiti.com and received my package yesterday. This necklace is AMAZING!

    Medallion Necklace - "Hands"
    US $15.00

    Love, love, love it!!!!!

    ReplyDelete

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