A Mother’s Strength
Posted: August 4, 2017

Quiet Day Turned Frantic

In Guatemala, Sunday is market day. With everyone out at the market, it had been a very quiet day at the clinic. Dr. Mario was just about to sit down to lunch with a visiting colleague when a few people from the town burst into the clinic. One of the women in town had gone into labor but was having a very difficult birth. They urged the doctors to come quickly. Dr. Mario and his colleague rushed over to the house.

When they arrived, a quick examination of the patient told them that there was a severe birth complication. The baby was wrongly positioned and had a larger head than normal. They began trying to help her there in her home, but to no avail. It became clear that to resolve this birth safely, the woman would have to be moved to the clinic. Fortunately, the family did not take much persuading and arranged to take her there immediately. Often this is not the case, families are unaccustomed to giving birth outside the home and to evidence-based medical settings and procedures. This barrier can often cause delay in life-saving treatment, especially during complications.

Mother Fights through Complications

Even with the help of the clinic’s resources, the baby still would not come. Because the baby was so big, it had gotten stuck. The mother was extremely cooperative, fighting through fatigue for over an hour and a half to follow the doctors’ instructions. Suddenly, there was a dip in the frequency of the child’s heartbeat. Not wanting to take any risks, the doctors agreed that they should try to get the woman to the hospital. A couple of her relatives ran to go find a car.

Meanwhile, word had spread throughout town that the mother and child were in danger. Many had left the market to gather outside the clinic, waiting for news with bated breath. A hush fell over the crowd when they saw the car pull up. They knew the situation must be severe.

Healthy Baby Finally Arrives

However, just as the car arrived to take the woman to the hospital, the baby finally seemed to dislodge itself. Fifteen minutes later, a healthy baby was born, weighing about nine pounds. When the crowd outside heard the baby crying, they began to clap. Hearing the applause, a few of the woman’s relatives came outside and announced that both mother and child were alive and well. The family thanked both doctors profusely, but both doctors agreed that the real hero was the mother. The strength and cooperation she showed throughout such a difficult birth had truly been remarkable.


This story is from a collection of true stories experienced by the Mayan people living in the highlands of Guatemala circa 1994. This collection was put together by Dr. Mario, the Project Director of Curamericas Guatemala, and his team to reflect on the life and health of these families and a search to find for solutions to these problems.

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