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Seane Corn on the Birth House

As Seen at http://www.womensconference.org/saving-mothers-lives/

What are the risks a mother in Uganda faces during childbirth? 

There are so many. Sometimes, out of fear or too great distances, the mother won’t go to a clinic but will choose to give birth at home, where she runs the risk of having the umbilical cord cut by a rusty knife or scissor, which can create infection. Also when a baby is born out in the village, the mother can easily bleed out if there aren’t the necessary instruments to help stitch or deal with hemorrhaging.

Unfortunately, a lot of the clinics don’t have contemporary devices to support the mother – and the mother and child could die for the same reasons as in the bush.

When I was in a clinic I saw a lot of fear and panic. Midwives hit the birthing mothers – told them not to cry or scream. These mothers also had to provide their own plastic bags, which they gave birth onto.

What inspired you to build an eco-birthing center in Uganda?

I met a woman named Natalie Angell who was creating an organization – Shanti Uganda. Her focus was HIV/AIDS and how it relates to women and infant-mother mortality issues in Uganda.

She was providing a solution to a problem, and I wanted to help her create this kind of safe and effective environment to give birth in. That’s how the eco-birthing center came to be.

Why Uganda?

It could have been any Third World country. Unfortunately the circumstances are largely the same – when you’re dealing with poverty and illiteracy, you’re going to deal with circumstances around birth that are unsafe, unsanitary, and in some cases, unsacred.

Uganda happened to be a country we focused on because of the genocide – and we tend to focus on cultures that have dealt with trauma.

What is an eco-birthing center?

First of all, all the materials are natural and sourced from the local environment: We use the earth, the hay and water to create the brick mixture. And then the bricks sun bake. Water that has been used is reused as gray water. It’s run on solar. So it’s a sustainable environment.

The birthing center itself has a birthing house where the midwives and birthing attendants can all get together and take classes on HIV, safe birthing practices, contemporary birth practices and traditional birthing practices.

The birthing house offers traditional beds as well as alternative means for childbirth (like bathtubs and squatting areas). We really try to create an environment that supports women in their birthing practice, whatever that is for them.


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