Giving Tuesday | Shiphrah Birthing Home | Grand Rapids Birth Photographer
Today is #GivingTuesday.
This year, I would love to tell you about an organization that I believe strongly in supporting financially. I have first-hand experience witnessing the way this organization has impacted individual lives and the surrounding community.
Shiphrah Birthing Home, part of HELP International Ministries, Inc., is an incredible place. Located just outside of Manila - the capital of the Philippines - Shiphrah provides a safe and dignified place to give birth for women who otherwise may not be given a voice in their own birth experience. The midwives at Shiphrah, "believe that God created the woman's body wonderfully, that she was created to and is able to give birth naturally. Our birthing philosophy is "Kaya mo yan" ("You can do it"), words of encouragement that many laboring mothers will hear
during their birth at Shiphrah Birthing Home" (from Shiphrah's website).
The birthing home was founded in 1986 by a life-long American missionary midwife, Jeri Gunderson (pictured below in blue as she conducts a prenatal appointment). Jeri truly has a heart for justice, community development, and women-centered care. I have learned so much from spending time with her.
Shiphrah employs many experienced and compassionate local midwives. Lornie, the midwife pictured below, has attended more than 5,000 births since starting her work at Shiphrah in 1994. The midwives at Shiphrah are dedicated to respecting the women they serve and providing excellent prenatal care, education, birth support, postnatal care, and beyond.
Below are images of women from the surrounding community that have come to Shiphrah during their pregnancies for prenatal appointments, support, and community building. Shiphrah is a lively place during prenatals, and being together enjoying the bond of motherhood is all part of the process. We are not meant to walk through motherhood alone.
Shiphrah is also unique in that it is a place where midwifery students and interns come from around the world to learn about midwifery. Pictured below on the right is Lori, an intern who led prenatal yoga classes while she was at Shiphrah attending births with the midwives. Lori is now back in Canada serving women, having learned so much from her time in the Philippines.
After receiving excellent prenatal care, women travel from near and far to Shiphrah when their labor starts. Below is a photograph of a mother in early labor in one of the birth rooms - these rooms are comfortable and are meant to resemble a home-like environment.
In another one of Shiphrah's birthing rooms, the mother pictured below is spending time bonding with her brand new baby. Babies belong skin-to-skin with their mothers, and the midwives at Shiphrah help create a safe space for the important moments of initial bonding and breastfeeding. The woman in the light blue shirt below is the baby's grandmother - who also gave birth at Shiphrah many years prior.
While women in hospitals are often strongly encouraged to give birth on their backs or in semi-reclined positions, women at Shiphrah are encouraged to follow their birthing instincts and give birth in whatever position feels most natural for them. Women are given the opportunity to squat on a birth stool (shown below), use birthing balls, labor or deliver on all fours, or try the side-lying position. Shiphrah is also one of the few places in the surrounding area where women can have a water birth.
If you are looking for an organization abroad that has developed an effective model for community development starting with empowering maternal care, please consider donating to Shiphrah Birth Home. Shiphrah is making a real difference in the community - and it all starts with supporting and caring for each individual woman and family that walks through the door.
Click below to learn more about Shiphrah and HELP International Ministries, Inc.