Shiphrah Birthing Home
The Philippines gifts me with a new learning every day. It may be a word, new food, a lesson in patience or a lesson in humility and gratitude. Manila extends the unique opportunity of stretching ones humanity, if you let it. The stark differences between the socio-economic levels is unique to this city and can serve as tool to motivate deep introspection. In spite of the wide spread poverty you will find incredibly radical individuals who have given their lives to serve the underprivileged. Today I would like to share about one such community, Shiphrah Birthing Home.
the shiphrah logo is simple and stands for the simplicity and no-b.s. work these women do; it also encompasses the whole family unit including mother, father and baby
Shiphrah Birthing Home is a humble birthing facility doing powerful work in Taytay, Rizal. Starting from a grass-roots Jesus loving movement, Shiphrah had simple beginnings. Jeri Gunderson and her daughter Deborah, the founders who still lead the work at Shiphrah today, moved to the Philippines in the 1980s with able and willing hands to help. Jeri first started assisting a missionary midwife with pre-natal check ups and the like until her involvement and knowledge continued to grow. After a number of years and supporting hundreds of women, a need for a facility evolved and Shiphrah Birthing Home came to be. There was no direct intention by any of the founders to start Shiprah. Like every step of its existence, there was a need and willing hands filled the void. Since then Shiphrah has continued to survive and support hundreds of mothers and families in having a safe, healthy and empowered birth.
during my visit I was able to witness a new family leaving just 11 hours after the mother had bravely and successfully given birth to a precious new baby girl.
*photo posted with permission
I was able to visit with Jeri last week and hear the story of Shiphrah. First thing you must know, the women of Shiphrah - all of them - are legendary badasses. The women who birth their babies at the home, the midwives who support them and the fore-mothers who paved the way (and continue to do so) for Shiphrah to exist.
The birthing home started from women supporting women in their community when proper care couldn’t be provided and it stills serves that purpose today. While I had 2 babies here in Manila my ignorance of the situation of other women’s labor and birth, particularly in public hospitals, was limited. When Jeri began to educate me on the situation that so many mothers face in Manila, it became acutely apparent how necessary the work of Shiphrah and empowered births are. Just like we sit in traffic on EDSA, imagine that same concept in a labor and delivery unit. Public hospitals sometimes have 3 mothers sharing a bed in a shared common space. This also includes the mother and her baby which puts the total count of 6 people TO ONE BED. 1:6. The whole system is strained because of the demand of facilities, professionals and care needed. You can read this recent article in Smart Parenting to hear personal stories and experiences from local mothers. Shiphrah’s main purpose is to give mothers an empowered birth experience that they all deserve.
Shiphrah Birthing Home is very much a home. the concept of laboring in a home supports the mother in her confidence to labor and birth from the power within herself.
Shiphrah encompasses the following:
|Shiphrah values education and empowers their mothers and families with pre-natal classes and care. The community of expecting mothers and families learn together about things that impact their lives during and beyond the pregnancy such as nutrition, self-care during the pregnancy, the birth process itself, breastfeeding, and family planning.*With some new DOH rulings Shiphrah will be restructuring their classes to meet the needs of their community and comply with the DOH. They are always persisting to help more women!
some of the lovely staff at Shiphrah. Arriane smiles with a wooden baby toy from a recent donation from a local montessori mom. Pamela is the resident housekeeper and keeps the rooms sanitary and fresh.
|"Kaya mo yan”! Shiphrah believes that the female body was designed and engineered to know how to successfully give birth naturally. Through the assistance of licensed and educated midwifes, these natural births are achieved.
|Maternal health care does not end with the birth of the baby. Mothers come back for postpartum check-ups, receive breastfeeding support, and can also have their newborn screening done at Shiphrah Birthing Home.
|They encourage families to have conversations about family planning. Shiphrah offers different options of contraceptive care and are here to answer questions about the different methods.
Shiphrah is family centered which means siblings are welcome to the home, there is even a playground to support this type of positive family situation.
|Shiphrah believes that caring for mothers, babies and families is not limited to pregnancy and birth. The community midwife, Arriane, makes regular visits into the surrounding communities to support mothers who need help with breastfeeding, to answer questions about family planning methods, and to simply listen.
|Shiphrah Birthing Home is a place of perpetual learning. They host workshops for local midwives and keep doors open for interns both from the Philippines and from abroad. Many foreign interns come to Shiphrah to see a positive birth experience in an impoverished areas, as this is quite unique to Shiphrah’s home.
*Please visit Shiphrah’s website here which clearly explains and includes access to more information. Much of the wording was borrowed from their own website.
Helen (midwife), Jeri (founder) & Lydia (midwife since 1993); Jeri’s daughter, Deborah (not pictured) has also been instrumental in the support for women and babies at Shiphrah
Support Women Supporting Women
The labor and birth cost for each women who enters Shiphrah is around 600-700 php. This covers the short list of supplies mothers will need. There is no cost for their stay at Shiphrah during their labor, birth or postpartum. Let’s convert that to different foreign currencies. Just to illustrate a point, I will convert the higher number of 700php.
Cost To Labor and Deliver at Shiphrah:
As you can see, the costs are extremely low and offset by the Shiphrah Birthing Home, WHICH SURVIVES ON DONATIONS. So, if you have made it this far and want to support women helping women (and babies!), please donate. I am also happy to announce that Shiphrah Birthing Home will be the official partner charity of Empowering Perspectives. You can donate online to Shiphrah or buy a raffle ticket at any of the Empowering Perspectives meeting and all proceeds go to Shiphrah. Our first meeting (all free) will be this Tuesday September 17 2019 and it is our pleasure that none other than Jeri Gunderson will be our first speaker of the series. You can sign up to attend here.
Manila is a city of extremes, and in the stark poverty there rises women and communities such as Shiphrah Birthing Home to combat and overcome the hardships. When we allow the humanity of Manila to humble us we become better people, I believe that. Here’s to doing good in the world today.