Supporting the maternity experience in the Amazon by uniting ancestral knowledge and modern medicine

 

What motivates us for this project is the existing knowledge in the region and how much medicine has borrowed – yet never appreciated – from local, midwifery knowledge.
– Patrícia Delpino Martins, 33, Founder of Mama Ekos.

By Bruno Faria

Maternity is symbolic for many things such as the beginning of life, love, care as well as other experiences and feelings that we’ve heard and repeated countless times. But do pregnant women really live through these experiences associated with pregnancy? Do they receive the prenatal care and support they need when in labor? These questions led to the creation of Mama Ekos.

Patrícia Delpino Martins, Mama Ekos’ founder, has a degree in physiotherapy, with a specialization in women’s health. She was specifically interested in pregnancy and childbirth. While working in the health sector, Patricia experienced firsthand the daily challenges of performing surgeries as well as the abuse and corruption that occurs within the hospital system. She witnessed a great number of unnecessary surgeries and the lack of preventative measures taken for specific cases. These experiences led her to seek out and create a more humanized, affective form of patient care involving physiotherapy and prevention.

Her disillusion with the healthcare system led her to redirect her efforts to learning more about social entrepreneurship. She would eventually use this knowledge to found Mama Ekos, creating it initially in partnership with the organization “Favela da Paz”, located in the “Jardim Nakamura”, a peripheral neighborhood in São Paulo.

In Jardim Nakamura, Mama Ekos began working in women’s empowerment and produced a documentary about the pregnant women in their cared based on their stories and chronic problems in the region. Once the project was established and recognized by the region, the project then started holding gatherings for pregnant women that included roundtable discussions and classes focused on pregnancy and childbirth.

In 2016 Patricia decided to bring her growing project and the insight she gained from working with Jardim Nakamura locals to the Amazon. She settled in Maués where she learned about organic medicine and traditional childbirth, tapped into a wealth of wisdom, and came to understand how formal medicine in the Amazon belittled the ancestral knowledge of local midwives. From that point on, Mama Ekos began working to enrich the maternity experience by uniting ancestral knowledge and modern medicine.

Mama Ekos started by gathering women with any ancestral knowledge about childbirth and organic medicine. Following the model that the organization created in São Paulo, the goal was to unite ancestral wisdom with medicinal practices in the region, including the use of medicinal plants, and put the midwives at the center of the activities so that they could share the knowledge with younger generations. Mama Ekos is also working to build a space to provide care and support for women coming from distant areas for prenatal exams.

Patricia’s research trip to the Amazon completely changed her life. After becoming involved with the work and the locals, she eventually decided to move there permanently. Mama Ekos continues to promote changes in the health system as well as in the way the population now views maternity.

“My dream is for the world to become more united for our own good and health, and so that we can live closer with nature”

Although Patricia was born in São Bernardo do Campo, her heart lives in Maués, the city where she transformed lives and had her own life transformed. This year Patricia gave birth to her first child there, using the methods developed by Mama Ekos that included ancestral and modern knowledge, midwives, nurses, doulas, family and friends.