Hambi Wasi Vertical Birth Center

Alberto Servín


April 14, 2011

I’d like to talk about maternal health and the vertical birth center recently created here at Hambi Wasi. This center was created primarily to prevent maternal deaths at childbirth, which unfortunately happen all too often among the indigenous population. Majorities of indigenous women give birth in their homes, without doctors or medical attention, and often suffer many health risks. There are many reasons why at-home births occur but lack of money is usually the main factor. Also, the indigenous population has a general mistrust of hospitals due to past incidents of discrimination. So Hambi Wasi is offering a solution by opening this vertical birth center, at an affordable cost and providing its services in a more familiar environment.

The vertical birth center crosses intercultural boundaries by employing western and local medical techniques. The clinic has an indigenous midwife and an obstetrician tending the patient. The pregnant woman stands vertically while she tugs on a hanging rope, and is assisted by the midwife. The mother-to-be works with gravitational pressure in having the baby to come out. As soon as the delivery occurs, the obstetrician and the nurse take the patient and her baby to another room to rest. Meanwhile, the midwife administers an herbal remedy to reduce the mother’s pain. Both patients are watched until the mother feels strong enough to leave.

Although this vertical birth center is a step in the right direction, there are still questions and issues that remain about maternal health care, here. For one, finding a way to bring this type of service to women in isolated communities remains a big challenge. Another challenge is how to encourage more women to consider going to the clinic versus staying home. Hambi Wasi is working on marketing its services by talking about its health and financial benefits. They are raising awareness of their services through radio advertisements and much-publicized visits to neighboring communities.

Since the vertical birth center has just opened, we haven’t had any patients yet. Hopefully, the message has got out and interest will arise for it. I am also hoping to be able to see a vertical birth before I finish my volunteer program. Thank you for taking an interest in Hambi Wasi and their efforts to improve maternal and infant healthcare. If you wish further information, please follow this link: http://www.yanapuma.org/en/volec_JambaHuasi.php

Alberto Servín