Thank you so much for taking time to look at our blog! We are a group of edical students who are passionate about training and in underserved areas. This January and February, we are in Peru, the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica internationally as well as locally in Flint and Lansing completing volunteer service, rotating in hospitals and clinics, and learning about international medicine and local underserved health care. We appreciate any time you take to read our reflections and any donations you might offer.

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Tuesday, February 19

Casa de Maternidad

Last Wednesday, I learned about an interesting option for pregnant women in a mountainous part of El Salvador called casa de maternidad. This is a house available to women who are pregnant in a small town of 74 people called Las Brisas, which stands at about 1000 meters of elevation. The roads to the town are barely drivable to say the least, so rarely do personal vehicles make it up the mountain. At the peak of the mountain, there is a coffee plantation, which has trucks driving up and down the treacherous roads daily.

Most people walk up and down that road to go to the market, doctor, or just about anything that is not available on the mountain. The hike up the mountain, which I had the pleasure of experiencing, takes about 1.5-2 hours. It is currently the dry season in El Salvador and is extremely dusty. The lack of dust free air makes the hike slightly more difficult. To venture up the mountain, one needs to take all the water they will drink for the day, since there are no stores in the small town to purchase more water. The walk down takes about 1-1.5 hours.

I hope I may have convinced you that this seems like a difficult task to undertake while pregnant. They unfortunately, do not have mid-wives in the community helping out in home pregnancies. The women need to walk up and down that mountain for prenatal care check ups, but when it gets close to the due date, women in Las Brisas can opt to go to the casa de maternidad. Approximately, 10 days before due date, women can walk over to this house, where they will stay with other pregnant women and share experiences. They will have cooking and cleaning services taken care of by staff members overseeing the house. The pregnant ladies can have family visit them everyday and even drop off food should they wish for some classic family recipes. In addition, an OB/GYN, visits them everyday to see how the pregnancy is progressing, and they are not too far from OB/GYN help in case a complication arises. When labor begins, the woman is transported to the hospital by car. All of these services are offered free of charge. The only rule is that no family members can stay over night. This is a nice option for women who live in a community were access to care is a large issue. It is a very interesting compromise to try to decrease complications surrounding delivery. 

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