Trinidad and Tobago is the home of the first waterbirth facility in the Caribbean. The midwives at Mamatoto Resource and Birth Centre have facilitated many births with the first being a waterbirth at their premises in Belmont 10 years ago, January 2008. The founders were determined to create a gentle, safe, natural and more family-focussed birth environment for women in their community. And so Mamatoto (Swahili for mother-baby) was born.
This award-winning NGO has led the way, offering a new birth environment in Trinidad and Tobago for women experiencing low-risk pregnancies. Although birth has become very medicalised in many developed countries, worldwide research shows that natural birthing methods (including waterbirths) with midwives using non-pharmacological techniques has the best outcomes for both mother and baby. Childbirth education and information, the inclusion of fathers, the presence of midwives and a doula (birthing coach), the optional use of water for relaxation and birth, breastfeeding, and postnatal support, have an immense impact on the bonding of the family and parenting. Mamatoto offers all these services including prenatal massage, yoga, and support for pregnancy loss in beautiful, serene surroundings designed to make new parents feel comfortable and to reduce anxiety. Their policy as an NGO, is to enable families of all different economic brackets to access quality health care and support before, during and after birth.
Trinidad had an infant mortality rate, second highest in the Caribbean, at 24.82 deaths/1,000 live births (World Bank Indicators 2014). This has improved to 13 deaths/1,000 live births (Unicef Child Mortality Report 2017). However, statistics from the Ministry of Social Development show that three quarters of all maternal deaths in Trinidad occur during the delivery and immediate postpartum period. The midwifery model of care inherent in the Birth Centre improves prenatal, birth and postnatal healthcare for women and adolescent girls.
Mamatoto’s innovative approach and committed staff were funded and assisted by JB Fernandes Memorial Trust 1, Match International, NLCB, and United Way, and many others, to renovate and equip its facility in Belmont, Port of Spain. The midwives and staff of Mamatoto collaborate with the local Schools of Midwifery and international Universities e.g Yale, assisting in the training of midwives and nurses. It combines the expertise and strengths of other relevant NGOs with that of highly experienced and competent independent midwives. The Birth Centre has received numerous awards for their services to communities, women and midwifery.
Thousands of women and their families have utilised Mamatoto’s services, some travelling from other Caribbean islands, Europe or the USA for a unique birth experience. It can still be difficult, even in developed countries, to receive this level of services, care and support.
Women giving birth at this Centre, choose a leaf on the ‘Tree of Life’ for their baby’s name and date of birth to be recorded. Mamatoto have recently painted a new tree as they move into their second decade of births.
The father of the first waterbirth said: ‘I remember that night in Belmont so vividly, as if it were last evening. Our caregivers: Calming. Focused. Caring. Reassuring a young couple that they were doing fine. The women of Mamatoto gave us – and continue to give us – their strength, their support and their selflessness. Congratulations on your first decade, and I am confident that you will continue to touch many lives as you did ours over the next decade.’
International Women’s Day 2018 in Port of Spain
Our midwives Pati Garcia and a Debbie Lewis representing at the Network of NGO’s Expo and Rally and March at Woodford Square. Get Up Stand Up for Gender Equality!
Lets fill our 120 new leaves with your newborns as we celebrate our ten year anniversary! Take a look at our first tree with names from 2008-2017. Thanks to Bunty + Nancy O’Connor for their contribution 10 yrs ago!
And our new tree awaits you!