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Wombs of the World is an organization founded in Asheville, NC in 2018. Our mission is to spread compassion, and support gentler and healthier births by connecting professional doulas with clinics and hospitals around the world. These culturally immersive experiences allow international birth workers to share their knowledge, hearts and hands, by honoring mothers and learning from different cultures about birth and resiliency.
In January and February 2019, sixteen birth doulas traveled to Tanzania and volunteered in two rural maternity clinics. Over the two months, we were able to deeply connect with mothers and hospital staff and listened to their needs. We witnessed powerful women bring healthy babies into the world, and we, unfortunately, witnessed terrible loss and hardship. The most frustrating element was that we know so many of these instances could be easily avoided with better resources.
Over the last years, the Tanzanian government has been putting a lot of effort into reducing the nation’s high maternal and neonatal mortality and morbidity numbers by increasing reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health (RMNCH) services.
The Karatu District Hospital in Karatu, Tanzania repeatedly expressed that their number one need is an ultrasound machine. RMNCH services can benefit from introducing obstetric sonography, as an ultrasound is an important aspect of quality antenatal care services. With this machine, the Karatu District Hospital will be able to estimate gestational age, improve detection of fetal anomalies and multiple pregnancies, reduce induction of labor for post-term pregnancy, and improve women’s pregnancy experiences. The KDH is a government-funded hospital and is free for all patients. This results in a very high volume of births and very limited resources.
Wombs of the World is working towards acquiring an ultrasound machine. These machines usually cost around $22,000 USD. We are also working with three other organizations to improve the quality of care at this hospital. In order for this to have an actual impact, medical staff must be trained as well in sonography.
We are working with a Dutch organization, called Midwife Without Borders and Stitching Mount Meru that will offer three-month courses to hospital staff. We already have two highly qualified doctors set to take the course this spring in Moshi, Tanzania.
Secondly, we are working with Boma la Mama, a Tanzania non-profit that plans to open a new birth center in the region. Boma la Mama is operated by a Canadian midwife named Leesha Mafura who also teaches advanced medical courses to hospital staff in the Karatu District. Leesha is our on the ground resource supervising the proper acquisition and use of the ultrasound machine.
And lastly, we are working with international doula training organization, Doula Canada, to create a doula training course in the Karatu Region. To put this in perspective, there are three clinics in this region that serve over 400,000 people. There are over 120 different tribes that are all encouraged to give birth in hospitals as homebirth death rates are alarmingly high. The Karatu District Hospital reports over one hundred and eighty births a month, with a rotating staff of three or four nurse midwives present.
The nurses are responsible for patient care, cleaning, patient intake, postpartum follow up, and charting. With such a high number of laboring mothers, they often feel stretched too thin to offer compassionate and gentle care to these mothers. After witnessing what we offer as doulas, which is continuous physical and emotional support, as well as suggestions to help progress labor, the nurses all demanded to have a doula at their future births. Word spread to the hospital director, and then to the Chief Medical Officer Mustafa Waziri, and they have asked us to create a doula training course to offer a new job opportunities to women in their community, lighten the work load for nurses, but most importantly, offer mothers more positive birth experiences.
We are now working with the executive director of Doula Canada, Shaunacy King (a doula who worked at the hospitals in February), to create a culturally appropriate curriculum to train local women in the community to be maternal health advocates. For the first year, Wombs of the World intends to fund three full time doulas at the clinic as a pilot program. An acceptable monthly salary is $150 USD. For three professional doulas, we need to raise $5,400 to cover their year’s salary.
This is an incredible first step in revolutionizing maternal care in this region of Tanzania. If the program is successful, it could easily be replicated in other areas. Between an ultrasound machine and doula support, women and infants have a better chance at healthier, gentler births, which will have a lasting impact on their lives, their families, and their communities.
We deeply thank you for your interest and support in this project.
For more information or question, please feel free to contact Charlotte Brielle or Gabrielle Hardin at firstname.lastname@example.org
Charlotte & Gabrielle
Wombs of the World