Doctor Valladarez { 23 images } Created 10 Sep 2008

Nancy Valladarez is a doctor at the only major birth clinic in in the western region of Guatemala. The San Jaun de Dios hospital in Quetzaltenango offers free health care to the surrounding communities. In a country where each women has an average of 4.4 children, and families with a dozen children are common, Nancy's clinic is always a flurry of activity. 30 40 mothers arrive each day to give birth, and Nancy and her small staff struggle to keep up with the work. Nancy works 24 hours shifts, never working less than 72 hours a week. "Most mothers have their children in their houses in the countryside with the help of commodores, or midwives, many of the women that come here are here because of complications." Today Nancy speaks in a gentle whisper, as she has lost her voice after a long shift. "Everything is completely free here" she says with pride, noting that it costs 3-5000 Quetzals (4-550 dollars) at a private clinic to give birth
Although Nancy does not have the latest technology, she has the rare gift of being able to show love, and also complete professionalism in the same breath. Mothers are lined up in rolling beds outside one of the three birth rooms while Nancy makes the rounds of the most complicated cases. When a woman reaches the breaking point in her labor Nancy follows here into the birth room where she speaks a few calming words before getting down to the business of birth. It is never easy, but Nancy manages to make it look that way, and this birth is over as quickly as it started.
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