Mothers wait with their children at the mid-wife clinic "Manos Abiertas" which aims to offer an alternative for women who may not want to use public hospitals.
Labour Of Love
For a Guatemalan woman getting pregnant can be dangerous.
The country is recovering from a history of genocide, civil war and discrimination and an inequality exists in many forms including gender. Guatemala holds the highest rate of gender inequality in Latin America ranking 116 out of 135 countries worldwide*.
This inequality is evidenced through the country’s treatment of its pregnant women and girls. Holding amongst the highest teen pregnancy and birth rates in Central America, the country’s inadequate maternal healthcare deeply affects generations of women, mothers and children.
*Global Gender Gap Index, World Economic Forum, 2012
Madeline Estefani Gomez Rodriguez, 16 years, has her final check-up in preparation for her pregnancy. She had to drop out of school because of the pregnancy.
Madeline Estefani, 16, with the father of her child Anthony Alejandro Valle, 15, at her parent's home. She got pregnant after her first time having sex. Guatemala has the third highest adolescent birth rate in Central America, with 114 births per 1,000 women annually between 15 and 19 years-old (Guttmacher Institute, 2006).
Maria Cristina Rogrigues de Gomez, 38, left, breast feeds her son as she waits for the bus with her nine-month-old pregnant daughter Madeline Estefani, 16. Maria was 19 years old when she was married and began having kids shortly after. She wanted a different life for her daughter.
Melisenda holds her grandson Lester Juan David. She cares for her grandson full-time after her daughter Pati passed away in the maternity ward at the public hospital. Pati was 17 years old when she was married and the father was with another woman and not present during the pregnancy. Guatemala has a maternal mortality rate of 120 deaths reported per 100,000 live births (UNICEF, 2010).
Josefina Vasquez Gonzalez, 54, who has been a midwife for 35 years, massages a newborn baby with herbs to cool a fever. She claims she was born with a thin veil over her face which is a sign that she has been called to be a midwife. Midwives are an important part of the country's traditional birthing practices and are critical especially in remote areas, yet they are mostly excluded from the formal health system.
Midwives dressed in traditional clothing are being formally trained by an NGO on how to remove a placenta after child birth. If the placenta is not properly removed it can lead to maternal deaths. Hemorrhage and infection are two of the main causes of maternal death.
New mothers rest in a room with their babies in a public hospital.
A sixteen-year-old, who is not old enough to sign herself out of the hospital, holds her newly born baby. She hasn't seen her mother in three years and because she is underage she has been waiting for weeks at the hospital for her mother to come and release her.
A woman is 8 centimetres dilated as she lays in the hallway of a public hospital. There are two hospital beds with stirrups that allow mothers to lie in a semi-reclined position to deliver in a comfortable position. As a result, often times women deliver their baby in this hallway.
A woman winces and is told not to cry out as she delivers her baby in a public hospital.
A baby boy is born at a public hospital.
Doctors crowd around a woman after she gives birth at a public hospital. One of the doctors stated, "there is no dignity in child birth."
A woman in the maternity ward is checked by a physician.
Workers wipe down a bed after a woman is transferred to a stretcher in preparation for child birth in the maternity ward of a public hospital.
Melisenda, whose daughter Pati passed away in the maternity ward at a public hospital, visits her daughter's grave. "There is a lack of responsibility at hospitals," she says describing the nurses as dismissive. Patti's grave is unmarked because Melisenda cannot afford the $100 for the gravestone.