"Every mother counts and healthcare is a human right." ~ Ibu Robin Lim

Every day, 981 women die of complications during childbirth around the world. One woman is campaigning to change this: Ibu Robin Lim, also known as the ‘Guerilla Midwife’, was voted CNN Hero of the Year 2011. 16 years ago, she founded Bumi Sehat, a non-profit organization that runs two by-donation community health centers in Bali and Aceh, Indonesia. Midwifery services to ensure gentle births are at the heart of Bumi Sehat and their clinics welcome approximately 600 new babies into the world each year.

Bumi Sehat advocates gentle birthing practices, which put mothers at the center of the birthing process by supporting their labor in safe and empowering ways. This gives women the capacity to give birth naturally without the use of medical intervention. Practices such as water birthing, early skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby, delayed cord cutting and the use of herbs and homeopathic alternatives instead of pharmaceuticals, all contribute to healthier births, mothers and babies. These methods are gathered from Ibu Robin’s procedural habit of respecting science, nature and tradition. Some of these methods are either unknown or ignored in almost every hospital in the world.

This photo reportage tells the story of one such gentle birth. Ni Made Murtini arrived at Bumi Sehat at 10am on the 12th of February 2012. She was to give birth to her second son that day.

- Virginie Noel Photography - At Bumi Sehat in Ubud, Bali
At Bumi Sehat in Ubud, Bali
- Virginie Noel Photography - Ni Made Murtini has been having contractions for several hours now. She will be giving birth today at Bumi Sehat clinic, in Ubud. Throughout her pregnancy, she has been coming to the clinic for regular check-ups, free of charge. She works in the kitchen of a popular restaurant in Ubud.
Ni Made Murtini has been having contractions for several hours now. She will be giving birth today at Bumi Sehat clinic, in Ubud. Throughout her pregnancy, she has been coming to the clinic for regular check-ups, free of charge. She works in the kitchen of a popular restaurant in Ubud.
- Virginie Noel Photography - Made comforts her first-born son, Dede, who threw an angry fit at seeing his mother in pain. Even though the contractions are increasing in intensity, Made manages to create a moment of peace with her son.
Made comforts her first-born son, Dede, who threw an angry fit at seeing his mother in pain. Even though the contractions are increasing in intensity, Made manages to create a moment of peace with her son.
- Virginie Noel Photography - A scale waits for the new baby in the birthing room.
A scale waits for the new baby in the birthing room.
- Virginie Noel Photography - The midwife encourages Made in her vocal release to deal with the increasing pain. Midwives at Bumi Sehat support the mothers-to-be with respect, wisdom and love.
The midwife encourages Made in her vocal release to deal with the increasing pain. Midwives at Bumi Sehat support the mothers-to-be with respect, wisdom and love.
- Virginie Noel Photography - Made requested a water birth, which is common practice at Bumi Sehat. Several midwives are now at her side, as well as her husband, Nyoman Dewita. The bathtub is decorated with flowers to make the mother feel special and cared for. Flowers are used extensively in Balinese culture for decorative and spiritual purposes.
Made requested a water birth, which is common practice at Bumi Sehat. Several midwives are now at her side, as well as her husband, Nyoman Dewita. The bathtub is decorated with flowers to make the mother feel special and cared for. Flowers are used extensively in Balinese culture for decorative and spiritual purposes.
- Virginie Noel Photography - Nyoman Dewita holds his wifes hand. The midwives have started singing the Gayatri Mantra, a Hindu chant, to support Made and lift the stress of her pain. Made chants too, when she can. It seems to help her, calming her and giving her strength. It is common practice at Bumi Sehat to use sacred chants of all religions during the birthing process, depending on the religion of the birthing mother. The chanting helps the mother and welcomes the baby into the world in a sacred atmosphere.
Nyoman Dewita holds his wife's hand. The midwives have started singing the Gayatri Mantra, a Hindu chant, to support Made and lift the stress of her pain. Made chants too, when she can. It seems to help her, calming her and giving her strength. It is common practice at Bumi Sehat to use sacred chants of all religions during the birthing process, depending on the religion of the birthing mother. The chanting helps the mother and welcomes the baby into the world in a sacred atmosphere.
- Virginie Noel Photography - Kadek Wira Bumi, born on 12th Februay 2012 at 6.38pm.
Kadek Wira Bumi, born on 12th Februay 2012 at 6.38pm.
- Virginie Noel Photography - A moment high in emotion for everyone in the room.
A moment high in emotion for everyone in the room.
- Virginie Noel Photography - Kadek Wira Bumi, named after Bumi Sehat. Bumi means Earth, and sehat means healthy in Indonesian. Kadek shares his birthday with 5 other babies who were born at Bumi Sehat that day.
Kadek Wira Bumi, named after Bumi Sehat. 'Bumi' means 'Earth', and 'sehat' means 'healthy' in Indonesian. Kadek shares his birthday with 5 other babies who were born at Bumi Sehat that day.
- Virginie Noel Photography - The placenta will be washed and placed in a bowl. The umbilical cord will only be cut the next day. This practice allows the baby to benefit from the additional blood and T-cells contained in the placenta. Delayed cutting of the umbilical cord has been linked to lesser anemia, a stronger immune system, and generally healthier babies.
The placenta will be washed and placed in a bowl. The umbilical cord will only be cut the next day. This practice allows the baby to benefit from the additional blood and T-cells contained in the placenta. Delayed cutting of the umbilical cord has been linked to lesser anemia, a stronger immune system, and generally healthier babies.
- Virginie Noel Photography - The midwives cheerfully wrap up the new arrival.
The midwives cheerfully wrap up the new arrival.
- Virginie Noel Photography - Tired but proud, Made rests, with her baby next to her.
Tired but proud, Made rests, with her baby next to her.
- Virginie Noel Photography - Ibu Robin works slowly and methodically to apply stitches to the tear in Mades perineum, while Made chats with another midwife. Made suffered a second grade tear.
Ibu Robin works slowly and methodically to apply stitches to the tear in Made's perineum, while Made chats with another midwife. Made suffered a second grade tear.
- Virginie Noel Photography - Ibu Robin shares Mades joy. She will also help her start breastfeeding her son. Exclusive breastfeeding is strongly encouraged at Bumi Sehat. The heavy advertising of baby formula in Indonesia has led to a rise in infant mortality in the country, and its high price puts a heavy economical strain on already impoverished families. Ibu Robin actively campaigns to promote breastfeeding and it is part of the clinics policy to physically remove any person who attempts to promote baby formula on the clinics premises.
Ibu Robin shares Made's joy. She will also help her start breastfeeding her son. Exclusive breastfeeding is strongly encouraged at Bumi Sehat. The heavy advertising of baby formula in Indonesia has led to a rise in infant mortality in the country, and its high price puts a heavy economical strain on already impoverished families. Ibu Robin actively campaigns to promote breastfeeding and it is part of the clinic's policy to physically remove any person who attempts to promote baby formula on the clinic's premises.
- Virginie Noel Photography - Mother and baby. The placenta is treated with reverence in Bali. Later, accompanied by the appropriate rituals and ceremonies, it will be buried at a designated place in the family compound. This will be the babys home, his anchor in this world.
Mother and baby. The placenta is treated with reverence in Bali. Later, accompanied by the appropriate rituals and ceremonies, it will be buried at a designated place in the family compound. This will be the baby's home, his anchor in this world.
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