Typically, I advocate for home birth, but in some areas of the world, a birthing center is a much safer option for baby and mom. In the remote Ifugao province of the Philippines, the traditional ayod hammock form of transportation for the sick is being used to transport mothers in labor in this mountainous region.
The maternal mortality ratio in Ifuago is 260 per 100,000 live births compared to the national average of 162 per 100,000. 70 percent of rural births are at home, but these rates are dropping due to initiatives to get women to birthing facilities using the ayod, or hammock ambulance.
IRIN Asia reports:
Hammocks are helping an increasing number of women in the remote mountains of Ifugao, a province in the northern Philippines, reach hospital to give birth.
The ayod, an improvised hammock, is an indigenous tradition used to transport the sick and elderly through mountainous terrain. A formalized ayod initiative, the Ayod Community Health Teams (ACHT), is helping an increasing number of rural women deliver their babies in health centres.
“The ayod has always been there, but now, institutionalized as a community effort, it has mitigated the two factors that greatly affect maternal health, namely: the decision to seek care and the means of transportation to get it,” said Hector Follosco, a provincial programme officer for UN Population Fund (UNFPA) in Ifugao.
According to UNFPA, an Ayod team is “composed of barangay chairs, midwives, barangay health workers, traditional birth attendants, and community volunteers”. A barangay is a village, the “smallest administrative division”.
Natural birth is not being abandoned in efforts to decrease maternal mortality in remote, mountainous regions of the Philippines. Traditional, natural methods are being embraced, from transportation to birth attendants. I love the ayod, and if I had to be transported during one of my labors, that would be the green way to go!
Photo: UNFPA Ifugao