April 3, 2009
In São Paulo Singing to Laboring Women
I told Vera that I was up to doing whatever she would like to plan. On a very spontaneous note, she invited some Doula friends to join us at the hospital where she does her work. It is in Itupeva, a suburb of São Paulo. Below are a couple of pictures of the women that were able to join us. Vera is on the far right in the top picture.
Vera is working in this hospital to improve the conditions for women giving birth. Her primary focus is mother and infant bonding. Realizing how very important it is for the baby to stay with the mother after being born, she is trying to change hospital procedures so the baby isn't taken away right after birth.
One of her goals is to train women as doulas to be with mothers during and after their births. There is a problem however, since this is a volunteer postion and most women need to be making money when they are working. And, it is a tough job to implement change in a hospital environment.
Back to our day. We entered a room where we found 3 laboring women. It was a good day for giving birth. And actually, there was one more in another room. One woman was in active labor, one woman was going into labor early and was there to hopefully slow down and stop her labor and the third seemed to be in very early labor.
We started with "There's a Circle Surrounding," to call in the angels. We went on to sing "Opening Up in Sweet Surrender," and next "I Am A Hollow Bamboo." The Doulas were'nt actually singing up to this point since English is my language, not there. After I started singing Hollow Bamboo, I suggested Vera try to translate it so the women could sing. This turned out to be very successful and we sang to the 3 women in English and Portugese. It was very exciting for me but I wasn't totally sure how it was for the Brazilian women in labor.
From here we went to visit the postpartum room, found 3 mothers with new babies and sang a round of "I Love My Baby." We found out while we were there that all three of the women just had cessarians, 2 for the second time and 1 for the third.
Next we joined hospital crew for lunch. There was a small kitchen where a couple of women were preparing home made food, very unlike our industrialized hospital food and many of the staff were there sitting at tables eating together.
Ok, for the good part...well another good part. After eating we were told that the woman in active labor just gave birth. She was planning to have her second cessarian. Being lunch time, the doctor assessed her condition and decided that he could go out for lunch and perform the surgery after he returned. Guess again doctor. She progressed so fast after we left the room that she gave birth right there in the pre-partum room without the doctor even being there!
And now the outlaw part. Vera tracked down the baby and found him. She actually put on scrubs, went and stole the baby and brought him to his mother. She waited for the nurse who just took too long so she took matters into her own hands and the baby too.
She put the baby on the mothers stomachflesh to flesh. She knew that given time and the magic of nature, that the baby would find the mothers breast and begin to bond. What a contrast to being left alone in a cold sterile environment with bright lights.
The father was called and in a little while he arrived. Because of Vera he was able to see his new son and enjoy the first moments with his wife.