In May 2015, Kimberly Todd, RNC, of Bozeman Health Family Birth Center
traveled halfway around the world to assist a development team in improving
maternal health in Kyrgyzstan. The former Soviet Republic just west of
China has one of the worst maternal/infant mortality rates in the world,
where six of 10 births in rural areas have life altering complications.
As a labor nurse, wife of a farmer and a grandmother, Kimberly connected
easily with Kyrgyz women. Over three weeks, she bounced over rough roads
to reach villages where she offered simple child birth education and fertility
awareness, and taught a bead method to help women keep track of their
monthly fertility cycles.
“Women in Kyrgyzstan were serious about learning and taking notes,”
Kimberly reflected. “I was thrilled to have bright and creative
translators who were learning and before long teaching with a passion.”
Kimberly and her team shared modern medical practice, advanced nursing
techniques and even chili recipes with the Kyrgyz women. For several shifts,
they observed birthing practices in the country’s finest hospital,
which included a cesarean section performed without cautery, suction or
oxygen, and with limited anesthesia. She noted that women delivering at
this facility brought their own linens and sterile equipment was questionable.
“Because of a measles outbreak, no family members were allowed in,
so each laboring woman was alone and on her feet, but the Kyrgyz women
were fearless and confident,” she said. “It was an honor to
witness their unassisted birthing and to have the privilege to offer support
and encouragement. There is a raw beauty and magnet power in their courage.
This is the Kyrgyz birthing attribute I brought home and carry with me
into each birth at our Family Birth Center.”