On June 12, 2017, The Yucatan Times posted an article translated from a Spanish-language newspaper Milenio article regarding Mrs. Sara Marie Forrest Jaimes, a midwife in Merida. Offering a right of reply to those who are the subject of significant criticism or allegations of wrongdoing is a fairness obligation. The Yucatan Times contacted Mrs. Jaimes for her side of the story. This is a portion of her response.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak about the recent article criticizing me and my practice.
My name is Sara Marie Forrest Jaimes. I am the mother of nine (six live with us) and my husband and I have one grandson. I was born and raised in Providence, RI. When I was nine, after reading The Midwife’s Apprentice, I knew I wanted to be a midwife. It was an almost 10 year educational journey, but I became Certified Nurse-Midwife, graduating with my Master’s of Science from Philadelphia University. I am an Adjunct Professor in the Women’s Health Program for Grand Canyon University, and I am currently pursuing my Doctorate of Nursing Practice with a focus on Obstetric Violence. I am certified in Arizona and nationally with the American Midwifery Certification Board. As a full scope women’s health provider, i have prescriptive authority and a drug enforcement number, as well as a National Provider Identification number. In January 2015, my husband and I (along with our children, my parents and my sister and her family) came to Yucatan to live. I was initially traveling back and forth to the States to work, but it became too difficult to leave my five children behind to work, so in January 2016, I began attending births here in Merida, and it quickly became a full time job. In April 2016, I opened what is now El Nido. I offer full scope midwifery services such as primary care, infertility, birth control, births and menopause, and everything in between. I work with community doctors, doulas, nurses, and midwives to provide physiologic, respected births. We give children birth classes, prenatal/postpartum yoga classes, and community education/classes. November 18 and 19, we will be hosting the Second Annual Respected Maternity Expo/Conference in Siglo XXI. The biggest problem has not been the acceptance of the community, but instead the institutions established to provide them with healthcare. When I first began looking to register as a midwife, I was told they were alegal (not legal or illegal), then that only traditional midwives are registered, then after speaking with the doctor directing the midwifery program for the Centro de Salud, I was told to sign up for classes and after attending 3 classes I would receive a traditional midwifery tag. I signed up, but the day before the first class, I was told not to come. I was originally told that the Secretary of Health ordered the program not to mix traditional with professional midwives. Then, it was because I was not of indigenous decent, then it was because I did not have my education in Mexico. Once I joined the Mexican Association of Midwifery, I learned that none of those were true. There are foreign trained midwives practicing throughout Mexico and foreign born traditional midwives as well.
I next went to the Jurisdiccion, where they were initially very helpful, but soon, they also hit a dead end. I was turned away everywhere I went. I gave anyone every document, every apostille, every transcript and diploma they asked for (SEP, SSY, Centro de Salud) but no one could help. During this time, there was a tentative path for my patients to receive the needed documentation to register their infant for a birth certificate, however, every time a family went, there seemed to be some change or problem. One day a week, the patients that had their babies that week and a local pediatrician (I was not allowed to sign for the babies I received) went to the Central de Salud to get their paperwork, but the pediatrician was publically humiliated by the director, to the point of withdrawing his participation. He was asked how he could work with “una extranjera.” My patients were told that their babies “were bought” and they were conned into having home births. This went on for months, until finally, they began denying the infants right to an identity solely because I had attended their birth. Then, we went to CODHEY. To make a long story short, instead of suing one person within the Centro de Salud (a social worker who routinely yelled, humiliated, and turned away my patients) I accidently sued the whole Secretary of Health. I was told that they would give my recent births their paperwork IF I agreed to stop attending births until I have my cedula professional (that has been in process for over a year now). I did and the majority of mothers who had scheduled births with me in May and June (90% of them in fact) have had cesareans at local hospitals. I am now working with Indignacion and CODHEY to speed up the process, as well as attempting to recruit more midwives to the area, but unfortunately, Merida has proved to be a hostile working environment for midwives, and in the past 4 months, 3 midwives have come and gone…
Since the article, I have received violent threats against myself and my family, visits to my home and office from immigration and secretary of health, but also so much love and support from the local, national, and international community. My patients and those involved in my practice have continued to support me personally and El Nido’s efforts to support and educate women to take back control of their health.
Sara Marie Forrest Jaimes
El Nido Midwifery
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