School of Powher Update

An excerpt from our research fellow Sasha Hernandez;

Since the 4th School of POWHER graduation in San Martin about a month ago I have moved to Lake Atitlan where I will spend the next 8 months. At first everything about my new home seemed drastically different than San Martin, the lake was 30 degrees warmer, I was now surrounded by deep blue water and three striking volcanoes, and I wasn’t the only ‘gringa’ in town. But as I began working at the local health post, which is usually only staffed by one auxiliary nurse and a doctor, I realized the need for reproductive health education hadn’t changed just because I was living in a new place. On my first day of work I was helping out with administering newborn vaccines when a young mom of 17, her husband, and a baby boy walked in. Shyly the mother asked me “my husband and I were intimate last night, can I get pregnant again?” As I was preparing the vaccines for her baby I gave her and her husband a pamphlet about birth control, asked them to read it, and told them we would discuss options after I was done with vaccination. For the next 20 minutes we had an in depth, detailed discussion about how conception actually works, methods that could be given to them for free at the community health posts (condoms, birth control pills, and injections), as well as natural methods. It blew my mind that this young couple didn’t have a real idea of how her pregnancy actually occurred and I was so excited to be able to explain anatomy and offer them real (and simple) methods such as condoms. This is just one instance of the vast amount of counseling that I have done during my time working at the health post in Santiago Atitlán.

This week I also went back to San Martin to check in with our recent grads. It’s exciting to hear that they are using the equipment given to them at graduation and all of them report that many more moms are seeking them for prenatal care and safe labor! During my visit I was also able to go out on some home visits to reinforce clinical skills with some of the elder comadronas. Paula, an elder comadrona, also wanted to bring Juana, a new comadrona, along on these visits as she so eloquently put it “Juana helps me master taking blood pressure and I can guide her during births, we both can learn through each other”.

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