Photographer Virginie Noel is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this social documentary photography. These images are from her project ‘A Gentle Birth‘. To see Virginie’s body of work click on any image.
A scale waits for the new baby in the birthing room.
“Every mother counts and healthcare is a human right.” ~ Ibu Robin Lim
Every day, 981 women die of complications during childbirth around the world. One woman is campaigning to change this: Ibu Robin Lim, also known as the ‘Guerilla Midwife’, was voted CNN Hero of the Year 2011. She founded Bumi Sehat in 1995, a non-profit organization that runs two by-donation community health centers in Bali and Aceh, Indonesia. Midwifery services to ensure gentle births are at the heart of Bumi Sehat and their clinics welcome approximately 600 new babies into the world each year.
Ni Made Murtini has been having contractions for several hours now. She will be giving birth today at Bumi Sehat Clinic, in Ubud. Throughout her pregnancy, she has been coming to the clinic for regular check-ups, free of charge. She works in the kitchen of a popular restaurant in Ubud.
The midwife encourages Made in her vocal release to deal with the increasing pain. Midwives at Bumi Sehat support the mothers-to-be with respect, wisdom and love.
Bumi Sehat advocates gentle birthing practices, which put mothers at the center of the birthing process by supporting their labor in safe and empowering ways. This gives women the capacity to give birth naturally without the use of medical intervention. Practices such as water birthing, early skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby, delayed cord cutting and the use of herbs and homeopathic alternatives instead of pharmaceuticals, all contribute to healthier births, mothers and babies. These methods are gathered from Ibu Robin’s procedural habit of respecting science, nature and tradition. Some of these methods are either unknown or ignored in almost every hospital in the world.
Made requested a water birth, which is common practice at Bumi Sehat. Several midwives are now at her side, as well as her husband, Nyoman Dewita. The bathtub is decorated with flowers to make the mother feel special and cared for. Flowers are used extensively in Balinese culture for decorative and spiritual purposes.
The placenta has been washed and is placed in a bowl. The umbilical cord will only be cut the next day. This practice allows the baby to benefit from the additional blood and T-cells contained in the placenta. Delayed cutting of the umbilical cord has been linked to lesser anemia, a stronger immune system, and generally healthier babies.
The midwives cheerfully wrap up the new arrival.
Kadek Wira Bumi, born on 12th Februay 2012 at 6.38pm. He is partly named after Bumi Sehat. ‘Bumi’ means ‘Earth’, and ‘Sehat’ means ‘healthy’ in Indonesian. Kadek shares his birthday with 5 other babies who were born at Bumi Sehat that day.
Mother and baby. The placenta is treated with reverence in Bali. Later, accompanied by the appropriate rituals and ceremonies, it will be buried at a designated place in the family compound. This will be the baby’s home, his anchor in this world.
This photo reportage tells the story of one such gentle birth. Ni Made Murtini arrived at Bumi Sehat at 10am on the 12th of February 2012. She was to give birth to her second son, Kadek Wira Bumi, that day.