Birth & Midwifery in Belize
Resources for parents and practitioners

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Gail JohnsonGail Johnson lives in Corazol Town (northern Belize) and would like to be in contact with other midwives in Central America so they may support each other. Gail is a semi-retired Certified Professional Midwife with thirty-plus years of experience in natural birth and water birth. Gail tells us: “I am licensed in Texas and in Belize. I now do only a few births each year, but, since I am semi-retired I am able to be a traveling midwife and to provide more personalized and individualized care to women world-wide. In addition to my limited midwifery practice, I also developed some childbirth classes for the Corozal District Hospital. Also, with approval of the Minister of Health and the Director of Nursing, I have taught evidence-based maternity care topics in Belize.” Gail is also a Red Cross volunteer and a Red Cross instructor teaching First Aid.

Gail is a frequent contributor to Midwifery Today E-News with responses to our queries of our Country Contacts. Simply use our search function under the Articles menu item, limit the response to E-News, and enter her name. You may find, for example, this E-News entry.

Articles

Journey with a Birth Theme by Wanda Walker

Birth in Belize [April 2008]

I’ve lived in Belize for over a year, however, I don’t like what I see. I have delivered four babies here in Belize. Since I am retired (sort of) all these couples have found me. Each of them wanted a natural birth.

From talking with other women here, I have learned that the c-section rate is rising, and for silly reasons. Like being overdue—when she was only 39 weeks by LMP and conception; and weak—she was told that because she was a vegetarian she could not handle the stress of labor.

Another did not want to be slapped in labor (they are supposed to be quiet) and also did not want an episiotomy. All first-time moms in Belize hospitals get an episiotomy, are required to use stirrups and no family members are allowed at hospital births. Also c-sections are given for progress that is too slow.

Women receive no childbirth education or dietary advice. Breastfeeding is supposed to be encouraged, but women are told routinely reasons they cannot: baby too small, baby needs food for the first few days because you have no milk, your nipples are too big. These are just things that I have been told personally.

Hospital staff are not motivated to change their behavior, as all are on salary and they get the same poor pay whether they are nice or not or whether anyone turns up to have the baby there or not. If staff are mean, then fewer patients come. Most ladies here go across the border to Mexico if they have the funds.

I have heard of a waterbirth being planned in a Mennonite community—but definitely not at the hospital. When I suggested to a hospital midwife that I thought the lady was overdue because the baby was posterior she ran for a doctor—she thought I meant breech! The lady was only at her due date.

The one thing that has changed here in Belize is more c-sections.

Gail