The Bumi Sehat Foundation began as an attempt to increase survival rates of mother and child during birthing in Indonesia, with acupuncture playing a key role to making this happen. Medical care doesn’t come cheap in Bali and many women simply cannot afford to have their new-born in a hospital, leaving many medically neglected and in life-threatening situations.
The clinic was founded by an American midwife, Robin Lim, when she moved to Bali and found herself constantly trying to help the local women through their pregnancy issues. The non-profit runs on three simple principles; respect for nature, respect for culture, and the wise implementation of the science of medicine. Bumi Sehat translates to ‘healthy mother earth’.
I visited the clinic recently in June, 2016 to find a coordinator very excited to hear I was an acupuncturist, but also very sad to reveal the Indonesian government has banned all international volunteers working in the clinic. They have been under-pressure for staff since this ban as they need to rely soley on Indonesian staff in Midwifery, Acupuncture, Chiropractic, and GP fields to work for free or small amounts. If women using the services can pay a little bit then it’s accepted, although most can’t and the clinic manages to run off volunteers, funding, and donated goods worldwide. The foundation now grants scholarships to put Indonesian people through Midwifery degree’s, with the requirement to work for the foundation after. This does put more reliance on donations to ensure the clinic survives and this appears to be the best way to help support.
The rooms are as basic as you’d expect; tiled or concrete floors with a hatched roof containing a sink, a small privacy divider and a bed. Standing in the reception you can hear a mother giving birth and see another holding her new-born. This is all pretty real. As you turn around you can see into treatment room (no doors) where acupuncture, chiropractic work, yoga classes, massage, natural family planning and nutritional support happens. Treatments are open to women in preparation for labor to reduce complications, and available after labor for breastfeeding support and the health of both mother and child is strong.
The clinic is completely natural, there is no pain medication. There isn’t even any forceps on hand. The mother is never still on the bed pushing, she is up moving into different positions (yoga influenced) to ensure good movement. Acupuncture press needles, acupressure and massage is taken advantage of and techniques such as delayed clamping and cutting of umbilical cords is used. On a busy day there can be up to 8 women giving birth, sometimes only 2 or 3. From this approximately only 1 mother every two months needs to be transferred to the nearby hospital, an on-call voluntary doctor takes over. It is a completely natural birthing process.
Since opening in 1995 the foundation has expanded to include programmes for youth education, HIV and sexual health testing and general health services (outside of birthing unit).
My clinic The Acupuncture Room in Wanaka is now continuously involved with the clinic. I am collecting supplies and sourcing people visiting Bali to take them over to drop off at the clinic in Ubud, Bali. If you’re an acupuncturist and going to Bali do get in touch with the clinic and have a look around, and if you’ve got a little bit of space in your bag perhaps a few boxes of press needles will be very gratefully received. It’s a great example of seeing our professions abilities naturally and safely put to good use for people that are disadvantaged due to money. Visit http://www.bumisehatfoundation.org/ to learn more.