Empowered Life Birth Collective's Partnership with Crosslink Development International's Women's Health Project
ELBC is partnering with Crosslink Development International, a non-profit organization that works in the country of Kyrgyzstan with a focus on community development. CDI has a Women's Community Health Education project that focuses on health training for women with an emphasis on pregnancy health, nutrition, birth education, labor support, and other areas of general women's health.
CDI's Women's Health Project
Kyrgyz culture places great importance on pregnancy and children. And of course, every mother desires to have a healthy pregnancy, good birthing experience, and healthy children. In Kyrgyzstan, maternal and infant morbidity and mortality rates are higher than they should be, and there is a seemingly high proportion of children born with birth defects and special needs. Much of this is due to poverty and poor nutrition, ignorance of the need for prenatal care, and lack of accurate health information. Because of this information void, as well as an abundance of misinformation, women continue to suffer in ignorance. They are unaware of basic maternal rights and options available to them for a better pregnancy and birth. Poor health and inappropriate medical care or inappropriate birth interventions increase the financial burden on already low-income and impoverished families.
While it is reported that most maternity hospitals offer childbirth education, it is not known how adequate or well-attended these classes are. Most women do not understand the importance of childbirth preparation or the concept of continuous labor support. Most women in maternity hospitals labor alone (especially since COVID quarantine controls), and when birth attendants are present, the mother often experiences both verbal and physical abuse during labor and birth.
Since most births in Kyrgyzstan are unmedicated, training provided in childbirth preparation classes offers women practical ways to manage pain during labor and birth. In addition, through education and informed decision-making women can lower their risk status and take a more active role in their own health care choices and in managing potential birth outcomes.
CDI has been working hard to bring positive impacts in the area of women's health. We have a team of three Kyrgyz ladies who manage the general health project, and several other ladies working specifically with our efforts to introduce doula care in Kyrgyzstan. Our projects operate through the generosity of donors who are passionate about what we are passionate about - women, health, and respectful maternity care!
Empowered Life Birth Collective's Contribution
A portion of every childbirth education course student’s fees go towards supporting CDI’s Women’s Health Project. This helps local Kyrgyz women get trained and certified as doulas and childbirth educators through ICEA. These women also help host local health trainings teaching local women about basic health and hygiene.
Mary Swartzendruber, one of our doulas and childbirth educators has helped start the doula and childbirth education trainings in Kyrgyzstan. She taught in their first training in their capital city, Bishkek, in 2021. As of 2023 there have been three trainings, with over 100 doulas and childbirth educators trained. Many of these women are continuing in their education to become certified through ICEA.