The job of “comadrona” (midwife) on the Guatemalan Altiplano, like in many other regions of the world, is a vocation transmitted from mother to daughter. A wisdom handed orally, fruit of experiences lost in the past. The birth of the “casa del parto ACAM” has represented a decisive change in the life of the comadronas of Concepcion Chiquirichapa, concurring to fulfill their dream: to build a pleasant place, clean and supplied with the essential instruments in order to assist the deliveries in complete autonomy. In fact, in the house they do not collaborate with medical staff and the delivery follows the rhythms given by nature. The woman entrusts the acquaintances of the comadrona (traditional midwife) which, beyond practical suggestions, uses curative herbs, known by the Mayan Mam tradition, in order to favor the positive course of the delivery. The moment of the birth is lived with extreme peacefulness: the mother, wearing her typical garment, gives birth in a simple bedroom, encircled by tight relatives and free to express her own feelings in native language, trusting in the full understanding of the comadrona. The birth of the child is celebrated with some propitiatory gestures: the baby, before receiving the breast of the mother, tastes salt and chile (chili pepper) in small amount, as auspice of a life full of taste and satisfactions; moreover he receives in his small hand a money, as wish of prosperity. After approximately one hour from the delivery, the mother enters in a very small room, called Chuj (Temascal) by the Mam tradition, in which the humid warmth is created throwing water on red-hot stones. The comadrona washes the woman with natural soaps and uses special herbs to cure skin abrasions. It is believed that Temascal, beyond possessing a purifying function, has optimal healing properties and favors lactogenesis. Before the family of the baby returns to its own house, the comadronas prepare a meal consisting in soup with vegetables, herbs (rich in iron and vitamins) and Atol (traditional drink made up of maize), taking advantage of the occasion to discuss and joke on the birth of the child.
Living with the comadronas has been an experience of total sharing of the simple and authentic rhythms that you can breath in the casa ACAM: the days, mostly dedicated to kitchen, cleaning and chatter, have been fulfilled by some unforgettable delivery attendances.