The birth class has been going so well! I’m having a lot of fun teaching it. These women have never been taught about their bodies. They didn’t know how their cycles work. They didn’t know how pregnancy happens. They definitely didn’t understand how labor works.
Every class I hear all sorts of folk myths and traditional remedies and we talk about which ones have merit and which ones don’t.
For example, there is an old woman who comes to class. She’s a midwife, she’s delivered 7 babies in her life time. She told me that one of the things she does for mothers immediately after birth is to massage their uterus. The other Karen women in the room nodded knowingly. This is something they all know happens after labor. But when asked why they do it, they explain that it’s to keep the woman from getting pregnant very soon after the baby.
So then I have to review what I taught them before about how conception works. I explain also that it’s really important for a woman’s uterus to contract after birth so she stops bleeding sooner. I tell them that uterine massage is part of helping it to contract well. So I can safely tell them that this old traditional practice is very good for women, life saving even, but it doesn’t help you to not get pregnant.
I went to visit one of our class members who is no longer coming to class because the long drive makes her too uncomfortable. She is due in just a few weeks. Her husband told me she had swelling in her ankles, and then I heard it was in the wrists as well so I rushed out to check her for signs of pre-eclampsia. She’s just fine in that respect. Western women who aren’t pregnant would be jealous of her ankles. She has a horrific scar on one leg from a motor cycle accident that got very badly infected, and she thought it might be the cause of her actual complaint, which, it turns out, was just leg cramps. I’m going to have to take some class time again and go over leg cramps, how to stretch them out, how to drink more water and get more potassium so they can all sleep better during the night.
You or I would just google such a thing and go back to sleep. These women, they can’t read, and have no electricity, let alone internet access. They just suffer through it.
They are extremely grateful for the nutrition packages, and the supplements they’ve been sent. Every week when I go to the market to buy their food I look for the women with the small stall and the vegetables that they grew or harvested themselves. I figure your donations for feeding these mamas can do double duty, not just helping the mothers who are expecting, but the mothers who are supporting their families through entrepreneurship.
We have 3 weeks left of class. On the final day the women are going to present everything they have learned and I’ve asked them to invite their families, and any young women or girls that they know. Several of the mamas in my class are teenagers. They might not be pregnant right now if someone had given them basic sex education. (One in particular says her baby’s father was a bad man who left when she started to show. From what she doesn’t say, it seems he promised her she wouldn’t get pregnant. She had no way of knowing otherwise.)
These women now have vital information that they can, and will, pass on to other young women. This is just the beginning you guys. I’ve got my eye on a few women to recruit as teachers for subsequent classes. The demand is very, very high.
Thank you so much for supporting this class, and feeding these mamas. We couldn’t do it alone.