New Palawan, Philippines Birth Clinic Through a Recent Volunteer's Eyes
"Bahai Arugaan Ni Maria, A New Birth Clinic in the Aborlan Municipality of Palawan,
Philippines", a guest blog by Lauri, one of our advisors and global midwife volunteers
Following four flights, an overnight in Manila and a 1.5 hour drive from Puerto Princesa to Aborlan, I recently had the privilege of arriving at Bahai Arugaan Ni Maria Birth Clinic. Bahai Arugaan Ni Maria (BAM) has been open and accepting pregnant and birthing women since June and offers a much needed, gentle-birth option for women and their families. The clinic serves Aborlan (population approx. 40,000) and the surrounding areas. Presently, the only nearby facility available for birthing families is the local hospital, which doesn’t allow partners or family to accompany a mom when she’s in labor. It’s also a more expensive option than BAM, which offers free services.
At BAM, women are encouraged to include their partners/husbands in their labor and delivery experience. They are treated kindly, with respect and dignity. The midwives practice gentle birth, a philosophy of labor, delivery and postpartum that prioritizes the mother/baby dyad, breastfeeding, and support of the whole family. Guidance by Robin Lim, CPM, a champion of gentle birth, has provided inspiration to the entire staff, not only the midwives.
Beth Leido, Senior Midwife at BAM shared with me a little bit about herself and how she practices midwifery:
“I’ve been a midwife for 13 years. I didn’t know about midwifery until I was enrolled in nursing school. Nursing school wasn’t what I expected; the students were expected to wear makeup and dressy clothes every day, and that’s not my way. One of the midwives there told me about midwifery and suggested I learn about it. I did and after completing the two-year course I’ve worked as a midwife and attended more than 300 births. They’ve been in homes, birth centers and hospitals. Some have been very difficult. What I like most about midwifery is the opportunity for personal growth. Before I see each patient, I pray for the wisdom and strength to provide the best possible care to the mom and baby. Every birth experience boosts my confidence and I hope to be an inspiration to other midwives.” Beth is truly an inspiration and role model to the midwives she works with!
BAM was started in response to the need for additional pregnancy and postpartum options in Aborlan. It began as a dream in 2016, when the founding team looked for an appropriate piece of land on which to build the clinic. After countless hours of hard work, fundraising both nationally (Philippines) and internationally and two years of pandemic-related delays, the clinic finally opened. The day-to-day operations are in the capable hands of Ms. Teresa “Tet” Maniego (clinic director) and Ms. Malou Suguitan (agricultural project lead). You see, BAM is not only a birth clinic! The long-term vision for BAM includes an organic farm supplying food for the moms & and children, fish pond, Farm to Table restaurant, green house, birthing villas and midwives’ dormitory and training center. At approximately 5 acres, there’s ample space for these projects.
As word spreads throughout the community via outreach, education, collaboration with local healthcare providers and patients sharing their personal experiences BAM is on track to become a vibrant resource serving hundreds of families every year.
Heartfelt thanks to Midwife Lauri for the blog, photos, and most of all,
for her volunteer spirit! To learn more about Network partners Bumi Wadah and Bumi Sehat