Seventeen-year-old Nahua is in labor and accidentally relieves herself in her hospital bed. Though it smells terrible, and she feels humiliated, she is not allowed to have another gown, or her bedsheet changed. She continues to labor in shame in a room full of fifteen people. Presently she is moved to the delivery room, where the chief doctor comes in laughing, does a massive episiotomy, and then goes in with forceps and pulls the baby out – all just to show off in front of the young interns.
This is a chilling but true story – representing the kind of care that the lower-income Oaxacan women receive.
Having a baby should be a time of great joy and hope. But thousands of people in Oaxaca remain isolated from medical care, and even those with access to government-staffed clinics often receive inadequate care. Women are still funneled through the relentless C-section mill. Stripping women of dignity and respect during childbirth violates human rights and affects the health of women and babies. At one of the most vulnerable times in these women’s lives, they are ignored and denied basic comforts that allow for a dignified birth experience.
A Home of Compassion & Peace for Expecting Families
Leaving women in the dark about their care can be a frightening and alienating experience. Casa Compasiva (Compassion House), a Christian Birthing and Midwifery Training center, was born to provide a caring alternative to the unacceptable birthing options in Oaxaca, Mexico. It supports child-bearing women with quality care and the dignity that God bestows on women.
A safe and caring environment is provided for young mothers and their new babies at Casa Compasiva is growing, thus impacting a culture where c-sections are the norm for the birthing experience. Through the passion and dedication of the trained and qualified staff at the center, this ministry is impacting the local culture and bringing the gospel of hope to many women and their families!
Holding Hands through the Childbirth Journey: Prenatal Classes
Historically, Casa has had 50% of the births at the facility and a 50% transfer to the hospital during labour. In 2021, 86% of births were at Casa Compasiva and only 14% were transferred to the hospital. One of the pillars of Casa’s approach is prenatal classes. Historically, the purpose of prenatal education classes was to prepare childbearing women for birth and to teach them pain management techniques during labor. The scope of prenatal education has expanded over the years and now includes preparation for pregnancy, labor and birth, care of the newborn, and adjustment to family life with a baby (Chalmers & Kingston, 2009; Nichols & Humenick, 2000).
The pandemic forced classes to go online and there was sadly a decrease in personal interaction with clients. Everyone was looking forward to the return of in-person classes again, which were finally restarted in January this year! One of this year’s goals was to resume face-to-face prenatal classes in compliance with the health standards established for this type of service. Prenatal attention, exercise, nutrition, and relevant information help expecting couples make informed decisions regarding the birth and care of the baby.
Fathers and mothers attend these classes from the 28th week of gestation for 7 weeks, which have been designed to give women the confidence to attempt a natural delivery with the following objectives:
- Know the birth process.
- Make informed decisions.
- Establish a birth plan.
- Achieve as safe a birth as possible.
Each class is designed around a different topic regarding pregnancy, labor, delivery, newborn, and breastfeeding. Casa is currently running their third batch of in-person classes.
The Impact of Prenatal Support
Doulas and midwives have worked to make the classes more interactive and dynamic, which has resulted in greater efficiency! The program includes an exercise routine on the floor or on a ball that varies each week, and a devotional time with bible reading and spiritual encouragement.
During the two years that the prenatal classes were online, pre-recorded videos were broadcast online, leading to a distance between the mothers and the home team, as well as a lack of interaction between the couples.
Casa has seen a complete change with couples who have recently completed the course as they show greater calm and confidence in their deliveries.
Casa Compasiva is currently finishing the third cycle of classes with three couples and during the devotional session, the couples requested the staff to pray for their pregnancies and birth. They proceeded to pray for the compassionate home team and asked God to grant them health and wisdom to care for them. What a tender moment of closing this cycle of classes, where pregnant women, their partners, and the team came together to be united spiritually with the same feelings!
Prenatal Impact Stories
Claudia came to Casa for consultation during her first pregnancy, searching for a place that would give her the opportunity to attempt a normal delivery. Since she was in her last trimester, her prenatal checkups were done. Higher than normal levels of amniotic fluid and gestational diabetes were detected. She was referred to the gynecologist for treatment, who sadly did not recommend a natural delivery since it was very likely that the baby had a congenital malformation and would present greater complications.
The news made Claudia very upset and depressed, who then returned to share her experience and her not-so-favorable prognosis. The Casa team was able to pray for and comfort her as well as advise her to seek the best alternative for their care. The team offered to accompany her during the last weeks up to her delivery. Casa has been able to demonstrate the love of God in such situations and comfort expecting mothers with the word of God.
Casa Compasiva supports a ministry called ‘sunflowers’ which provides compassionate prenatal or medical care for street women. These interactions are a great opportunity for the team to share the word of God with these street women, and pray for them and their pregnancy. Such was the case of Faviola. Faviola is a young woman who at the beginning of her labor was diagnosed with an infection that spiked her temperature and caused her baby’s heart rate to accelerate. She was immediately referred to a hospital where she delivered her baby with certain complications that kept them hospitalized for more than a week.
The work that Casa is doing with your support is SAVING lives!
What does the future hold for Casa?
Thanks to you, the Staff at Casa celebrated their 11th Anniversary on Feb 11th this year! They recognized eleven years of serving, ministering, and building the lives of dozens of families and babies. The staff has accompanied many women in their labor and deliveries in other hospitals, offering emotional and spiritual support every hour and in every uterine contraction with comfort measures, words of affirmation, and prayer.
In 2022, Casa hopes to begin work on the following initiatives:
- Grisasol ministry partnership: Grisasol works with girls downtown in the red-light districts, offering them support for their health and psychical and spiritual needs. Casa is partnering with them to provide care and support for the girls’ health, pregnancy, and spiritual needs.
- Partnerships with local churches: Casa Compasiva wishes to build relationships with churches around the city to refer clients who accept Christ to receive discipleship and training. The move will increase Casa’s recognition around the city and help connect with other believers.
Aside from day-to-day expenses like utilities, admin supplies, medical supplies, vehicle maintenance, etc. the two travel and training programs are new costs that Casa needs funding for. Facilities like Casa Compasiva need emergency transport for referrals, essential drugs, supplies, equipment, and infrastructure, especially physical spaces that are safe and hygienic. Mothers who deliver their babies into unhygienic settings because of the lack of simple tools face the grave danger of infections. Casa urgently needs an Autoclave, a sterilization machine for devices and tools used during appointments and births.
How You Can Help
You can help us reach the goal of $2000 for the Autoclave! Click here to donate!
We also ask you to consider becoming a monthly donor! A monthly gift of $20, $50, or even $100 will assist in providing the care that vulnerable mamas and bebés need!
When you give, you will be assisting with not only the costs associated with the care of vulnerable parents, but you will be bringing hope to every newborn baby in Oaxaca. You will become a part of a critical mission – rescuing vulnerable mothers from abuse, racism, and disrespectful healthcare.