School of PowHer
School of PowHer
The School of POWHER (Providing Outreach in Women’s Health and Educational Resources) is a program developed with traditional birth attendants for traditional birth attendants. The program, based out of the Lake Atitlan region in Guatemala, focuses on providing excellent maternal health care in a culturally appropriate manner. In the Lake Atitlan region, traditional birth attendants, comadronas, serve as the respected role as caretakers of all women’s health needs in Mayan Culture. While many of these women cannot read or write, their knowledge is passed down through their ancestors. These women are much sought after and are trusted with the lives of mothers and babies in their communities.
Saving Mothers recognizes the importance of supporting pre-existing cultural structures to provide effective and sensitive care to women worldwide. Therefore, the school of POWHER was developed to empower comadronas to continue to serve as important leaders in their community while providing them with additional medical background for safe pregnancies and deliveries.
Student Class of 2018
Achievements in the Community
# of supervised visits: 472
# of high risk patients identified: 94
# of supervised post-partum visits: 46
# of patients receiving prenatal vitamins: 410
The School of POWHER, trains traditional birth attendants in order to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity in Mayan communities. The model of teaching is twofold: didactic and practical. This combination of lecture style and experiential learning is catered to birth attendants of all literacy levels.
All graduates are provided with the tools they need to provide excellent prenatal care. This includes: blood pressure cuff, a fetal Doppler, a stethoscope, a pregnancy wheel, measuring tape prenatal vitamins and hand sanitizer. Graduates are invited and encouraged to participate in continued educational activities hosted quarterly by the School of POWHER educators.
Didactic: The didactic portion of the school consists of 3 months and 112 hours of training led by former graduates of the program. Classes review topics from reproductive anatomy to risks signs in pregnancy, and family planning.
Practical: After completing the didactic portion, comadronas are partnered with clinical educators, prior graduates of POWHER. They are supervised by the clinical educators on prenatal care visits, which helps reinforce the concepts taught in the theoretical portion. The students continue to receive supervised visits for the entire year following enrollment in the school.
Saving Mothers not only runs the School of POWHER, but also supports maternal health initiatives throughout the Lake Region. Educators from POWHER are key liaisons in their community, and provide trainings on how to use “Safe Birth Kits” to older comadronas in the region. They are wonderful women’s health advocates in their communities and meet with local health officials to assist with running workshops and providing vitamins to the women in the surrounding areas.
Did you know...
4 School of POWHER graduates now run the Casa Materna San Juan community birthing center which opened in 2014!
Program Coordinator & Research Fellowship in Guatemala
Each year Saving Mothers in Guatemala provides an opportunity to a medical student, a public health student, or graduate to serve as the Research Fellow and Programs Coordinator. For 10-12 months, this individual will be living in Santiago Atitlan. They will be responsible for overseeing the daily activities and monitoring and evaluation of the School of POWHER, a program which trains Mayan traditional birth attendants. As well as given opportunities to be apart of the continuing research surrounding the program. Through this experience, the fellow has the opportunity to observe the maternal health arena in a low-resource setting. They will also be developing crucial skills in building trust and partnership with community stakeholders while sharing some of the scientific knowledge of female reproduction and birth.