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The Russian Birth Project.

Yevgenia Leopoldovna Lukina is head doctor at Roddom No. 12, a maternity hospital in St. Petersburg.(1) A softspoken, quietly powerful woman, she manages her staff of midwives gracefully. We sipped tea and ate cakes together while discussing the needs of her roddom. At my request, she wrote out a list of medical supplies her center would require over the coming year. "By American standards we have very little," she says honestly, without embarrassment, "but what we lack in technology we make up for with our hands, and our hearts, and our souls."

Yevgenia's roddom will be the base center of the Russian Birth Project. Beginning in September, 1992, students of midwifery who already possess theoretical knowledge will have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience working in Roddom No. 12. The program will be an intensive three-month practicum. Students will get experience in all aspects of prenatal, perinatal, postpartum, and newborn care, under the supervision of both American and Russian midwives. Translators will also be available for assistance.

The project is a unique opportunity for aspiring midwives of all educational backgrounds, because direct-entry students will work alongside Russian midwives, nurses and doctors in maternity hospitals. In St. Petersburg (formerly Leningrad), Russia's historic 18th century city of bridges, canals, and beautiful architecture, students will be exposed to the full spectrum of Russian maternity care. In Roddom No. 12, they will be assigned to clients so as to avoid an assembly-line approach. They will become familiar with Russian culture and family life through prenatal and postpartum home visits. They will lead childbirth preparation classes with the help of translators. They will participate in weekly patient review sessions and classes. They will keep detailed records of their work, to be reviewed and signed by American and Russian supervisors. They will have access to a birth library and video center. In addition, Roddom No. 12 will be conducting waterbirths - the first Russian maternity hospital to do so on an ongoing basis.

Students will make periodic trips to two other roddoms which specialize in high-risk pregnancy: Rh complications; women with heart problems; diabetes; toxemia; infectious diseases. They will have the chance to witness C-sections and gynecological surgery. They will complete a rotation in a high-risk neonatal center.

The project has agreed to provide participating roddoms with much needed medical equipment and supplies. We welcome donations of all kinds, whether from manufacturers or from individuals.

Students will be provided with housing in shared apartments located near Roddom No. 12. Food and cooking will also be provided, as will transportation around St. Petersburg.

Tuition for the program is $3000. A $100 application fee will be applied toward tuition after the student is accepted. Applicants will be required to make a personal interview in Chicago before acceptance, so that all concerned are certain about the decision.

As Director of the Project and a Russian speaker, I will be living in St. Petersburg. Talitha Sanders, a direct-entry midwife, will be the American Administrator of the program.

This Project is an intensely exciting opportunity. Not only does it offer aspiring midwives the chance to get valuable hands-on experience in maternity hospitals (probably the first direct-entry program ever to do so); but it represents a tangible breakdown of barriers between East and West, a contribution to world peace through midwifery!

Donations, requests for applications, and letters from midwives interested in working 6-week rotations can be mailed to: The Russian Birth Project 1424 Washington St. Evanston, IL 60202 Molly Caliger Lasser, Director 312/276-2979 or Talitha Sanders, Administrator 708/475-5934.

(1) Roddom is an abbreviation of the Russian rodil'nii dom; literally, birth house. Ed.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Association of Labor Assistants & Childbirth Educators
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:training program for midwives in St. Petersburg
Author:Lasser, Molly Caliger
Publication:Special Delivery
Date:Mar 22, 1992
Previous Article:Birth.
Next Article:"Special Delivery" video now available for the deaf.

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