Midwives for Midwives has established long-standing relationships with Traditional Midwives in Guatemala, and provides an opportunity for students to live and work with a community based Traditional Midwife. The Traditional Midwives that participate in the homestay program have many years of experience and have also taken midwifery training courses through MFM.

Living and working with traditional midwives enables students to see firsthand the life of an indigenous rural midwife who is actively serving her community. Life is simple and often challenging with little luxuries and often long working hours. Traditional Midwives often arrive early at a birth and stay for hours after the birth. This experience requires stamina and the ability to be sensitive to cultural differences.

All placements are within 45 minutes to 3 hours from Antigua. Placements are with a midwife that is active in her community attending births, providing prenatal and postpartum care and often providing consulting care and referral for other general health related needs in the community. Some midwives also do community service work attending prenatal clinics for a local heath post. Because Guatemalan midwives attend few births (3-5 births/month on average), this is an experience of going deep with few births, rather than rushing through many births.

Students from the fields of midwifery, nursing, international women’s health, anthropology, social sciences, women’s studies, and indigenous studies and gender studies have participated in this unique program.

Best advice I received from a friend before my trip was, “I hope you have the most open-hearted experience!”…It’s so cheesy, but I kept that thought in mind, and keeping and open heart really did make everything that much ore magical and enthralling. Do it! It wasn’t always easy, but I gained knowledge and experience, and shared in a relationship that I am so grateful for, and it couldn’t have happened any other way”
-Sonia Glenna, MFM Homestay Participant

Requirements to apply

  1. Intermediate to advanced fluency in Spanish (no interpretation services available onsite).
  2. Previous experience in women’s health, birth, and travel is strongly encouraged.
  3. One month minimum time commitment required.
  4. $150 one time placement fee.
  5. $150/week for room and board to be paid to the Traditional Midwives at the beginning of the month or the week.

*This is an independent study and does not offer clinical supervision. MFM’s role is to review and appropriately match applicants with available placements.

To apply, please complete the Application Form.
For further information and some frequently asked questions click HERE

What to Bring

Clothing

The weather in Guatemala can be surprisingly cool, especially during the rainy season (May-Nov.) Therefore, along with lightweight, cotton, warm-weather clothes we recommend bringing a cotton sweater, lightweight jacket and warm wool/cotton socks for the cool nights. We also recommend bringing a pair of close-toed shoes. Nothing too funky or sexy, tattoos must be covered and facial piercings should be removed.

Bedding

Most homestays have bedding available and it is not necessary to bring. However, if you are particular about your sheets, pillow (they can be a little musty in damp weather), etc. it would be a good idea to bring them with you. Down pillows travel well.

Personal Care Items

If you have a certain prescription, herbal preparation, tea, soap, etc. that you prefer and bring those with you.

Food

Some of the homestays are able to cater to special diets. However, much of the food in the homestays is limited to simple beans, eggs, tortillas and you should prepare to be as flexible as possible with your diet.
If you are so inclined, bring miso packets, energy bars, etc. as they are not available. Good tofu (available in Antigua), fresh fruits and veggies, and granola (also can be bought in Antigua) are available.

Supplies

Bring a notebook/pens for personal use and another for Spanish language classes if you are taking them. Bring your own box of clean gloves to use at births.

Miscellaneous

  • A small travel umbrella that you can carry around with you will come in handy especially in rainy season.
  • A reading light (headlamp) will be useful as the lighting here tends to be bad.
  • A day pack/small back pack.
  • Mace/Pepper Spray is suggested.
  • Insect repellant if you are especially sensitive to bugs/mosquitos.
  • A mosquito net is not a necessity but may be helpful, you can buy one there.
  • Bring pictures of family/friends/loved ones (the midwives love to see them and you will enjoy having them with you).

Gifts

Not required, but always nice. The midwives can always use donated gloves, gauze and prenatal vitamins. Homes with children always appreciate markers, paper and used kids clothing.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can I be put in touch with previous MFM homestay participants?

A: Yes, we would be happy to connect you with previous participants in the homestay program. Contact us at info@midwivesformidwives.org.

Q: What additional expenses can I expect?

A: The cost of airfare.
Travel to and from the airport via taxi or shuttle will cost approximately $50 each way (pick-up by your home stay can be arranged with some, but not all sites.)
Food you purchase outside of what your host family provides at meals (snacks, meals out etc.)
The cost of any travel you choose to do in and around Guatemala, before or after your stay.

Q: What is included in the weekly $150 home stay fee?

A: Room and board, three simple meals a day, bottled water, a private room with lock and the privilege of accompanying the midwife in her day to day tasks.

Q: Will I need a cell phone?

A: You will not need to have a cellphone, but may choose to purchase one for $30 with a time card (10 cents a minute.)

Q: How can I be reached in an emergency?

A: The midwife you will be working with can be contacted directly in an emergency. You are responsible for giving her number to your family/emergency contacts.

Q: Will I have access to the internet?

A: There are a limited number of sites with internet access in the home. Internet cafes near or around your site may also provide internet access for a small fee. Though, please keep in mind that internet in Guatemala can be slow and unpredictable.

Q: Is traveling in Guatemala safe?

A: Traveling in any country has it risks and MFM cannot guarantee your safety while traveling. Do your own research about Guatemala and Guatemalan culture. Be aware of your surroundings, dress modestly and demonstrate thoughtfulness and respect for the culture.
Jewelry, cameras, computers and expensive equipment can attract unwanted attention. Leave what you can at home and keep flashy gadgets packed away.
All sites provide a room with a lock, you are encouraged to keep valuables locked away.

Q: How many births will I attend?

A: Typically, traditional midwives attend 2-4 births a month providing prenatal, birth and postpartum care as well as primary care within their community.
However, this program is not meant to be seen as a clinical sight to receive “numbers” or to fulfill academic requirements.

Q: How much Spanish do I need to speak?

A: It is our recommendation that you have an intermediate understanding of the language prior to arrival and that you can communicate as necessary without an interpreter. There are affordable language schools located in Antigua for those who would like to work on their Spanish before arriving at their home stay.

Q: How long can I stay in Guatemala?

A: Our program requires a one month minimum stay. However, your visa allows you to stay in Guatemala for 90 days, at which time you may choose to renew it by leaving the country on a short trip (Belize, Nicaragua, etc).

Student Blogs & Galleries

MFM Home Stay Student Shares Her Stories: Living with Midwives Blog

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