Open Access Open Badges Research article

The acceptability and feasibility of an intercultural birth center in the highlands of Chiapas, Mexico

Kathryn Tucker1, Hector Ochoa2, Rosario Garcia2, Kirsty Sievwright1, Amy Chambliss1 and Margaret C Baker13*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of International Health, NHS, Georgetown University, Washington, DC 20057, USA

2 El Colegio de la Frontera Sur, Carretera Panamericana y Periférico Sur s/n, Barrio María Auxiliadora, San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas CP 29290, México

3 Department of International Health-NHS, 3700 Reservoir Road, NW, Washington, DC 20057-1107, USA

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BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 2013, 13:94  doi:10.1186/1471-2393-13-94

Published: 16 April 2013



An intercultural birthing house was established in the Highlands of Chiapas, Mexico, as an intervention to reduce maternal mortality among indigenous women. This birth center, known locally as the Casa Materna, is a place where women can come to give birth with their traditional birth attendant. However, three months after opening, no woman had used the birthing house.


This study reports on the knowledge, attitudes and practices related to childbirth and use of the Casa Materna from the perspective of the health workers, traditional birth attendants and the program’s target population. Structured interviews, in-depth interviews and focus group discussions were conducted with participants from each of these groups. Data was searched for emerging themes and coded.

Results and conclusions

Findings show that the potential success of this program is jeopardized by lack of transport and a strong cultural preference for home births. The paper highlights the importance of community participation in planning and implementing such an intervention and of establishing trust and mutual respect among key actors. Recommendations are provided for moving forward the maternal health agenda of indigenous women in Chiapas.