NOVA Birth Program in Action

By Kristina Davis

Every minute of every day, a woman dies in childbirth. 99% of these deaths occur in developing countries. Africa is the most dangerous place to be a woman of childbearing age; there, 1 in 16 women die in childbirth. On the other side of these statistics are people just like you and I: children losing their mothers, men losing their wives. Women dying of preventable causes.

We believe that birth is a normal life event, a sacred journey in which a woman partners with God to bring forth life and therein finds her own life irrevocably changed. It should not be a time of fear, and death should have no part in it.

NOVA Birth is a training program pioneered by Tara Garner. In January 2010, NOVA Birth officially began its childbirth education certification program facilitated by the Institute for Global Outreach Developments International in which women could become trained as certified childbirth educators (CBE). The team of NOVA Birth instructors developed curriculum that is equipping their students to holistically support women both here in the United States and also in the developing world.

The CBE certification is a rigorous two-year program, during which time the CBE students learn about nutrition, prenatal care, anatomy and physiology, the process of labor and birth, lactation and how to support a family before, during, and after birth. Hands-on learning is essential to this process, and there is no shortage of opportunities to learn.

On Monday, Heather Munoz will take her education and her family to India for the remainder of summer. There, she will spend time learning how women in the region give birth. She is studying the differences between hospitals, clinics, and home births attended by traditional birth attendants. She has a wide body of knowledge and many practical tips for helping women who are unable to obtain a trained birth assistant.

Celesta Bargatze is in Uganda for the next 5 months, where she is volunteering with a midwife at a government sponsored health clinic. She also has made contact with Anna, the local homebirth midwife, and is developing a relationship with her. She hopes to attend many births and spend time teaching childbirth education during her time in Uganda this year.

Students Tori Roufs and Megan Mathews are also abroad. In El Salvador, Tori has befriended a 17 year old young woman who is pregnant and very fearful about her situation. Tori’s education, coupled with her love, is bringing new life to this precious mother-to-be. Megan is in the Philippines attending births alongside a local midwife, supporting women as they birth their babies.

Kristina Davis has remained in Antioch this summer as the NOVA Birth Antioch contact. The home team is focusing on further training, curriculum development and service. We are attending births locally, serving families in the postpartum capacity, and teaching childbirth education classes. We are also embarking on a partnership with the

Nashville Birth Project, through which we will support local pregnant teens through their pregnancies and births. It is an excellent opportunity to love our neighbors and sharpen our abilities as birth workers.