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Member Spotlight

Rena Geibel, MPH, CD(DONA), LCCE

Location: Zambia

While working in East, Central, and Southern Africa Region with Save the Children-UK, I started my own family. Delivering my two girls in Kenya in 2004 and 2005 influenced me to shift my professional focus toward improving maternity care. I knew that the preparation for birth could be better than what I had offered to me through the hospital. I now offer doula services, lactation advice and teach Lamaze childbirth education classes.

Dedicated childbirth education classes are new to Zambia. Currently, couples want me to accommodate their schedules; rather than merging into one of the 'on-offer' set course, which are either in evenings or Saturday mornings. I believe in the value of peer support and want to ensure expectant moms can meet other expectant families. While to have been teaching individuals on their own, I am doing my best to encourage an intimate setting where experiences can be shared. Scheduling flexibility is the name of the game, at this point.

Of course, the other challenge is hearing mother's stories about the horrendous birth environments and lack of lactation support in the hospitals. There is a large gap between best practice and reality. Change for better takes dedication, hope, and patience.

Rena Shares a Success Story

November 11, 2011 - January 13, 2012

A family had an extremely unsatisfying first birth experience seven years earlier. They used words like “frightful,” “crazy” and “demoralizing” to describe the arrival of their first child. The couple could not afford a Lamaze childbirth class or afford a facility-based delivery. Yet, they were educating themselves on various birth options and wanted to be better prepared. Previous Lamaze class participants provided a donation to sponsor other couples who could not afford the fee, so they could attend the course. This sponsorship was the start of an amazing transformation!

"Yesterday's [Lamaze] session boosted our confidence for our upcoming baby. Since we returned to Kenya [from the USA], we have faced so much defeat, despite it being our home country. We just wanted to appreciate you for uplifting us from this feeling of defeat. This class to us is more than preparation for labor and our baby; it is truly a light at the end of a dark tunnel."

This couple had a completely different and uplifting second birth experience. "By afternoon I was able to take a stand up shower and I was walking and holding my son and enjoying a wonderful and empowering birth experience."