The Midwifery Today Conference was a breath of fresh air, inspirational and challenging.
Here are some highlights from my notes. First of all Birth as a Human Rights issue:
The discourse on human rights is relatively new ( as opposed to the rights of landowners, kings and oligarchies)
We are just catching on that Birth is human rights issues
19 years ago Maternal Mortality was included in the Millennium goals.
And since then the development of the understanding of preventable maternal mortality and morbidity as a pressing human rights issue.
The UN Human Rights commission is now saying re maternity: No customs, traditions and practices can be involved that do violence to women.
There is a link between money (for instance, where birth is big business for doctors and hospitals) and fear of what may happen at birth.
Robbie Davis-Floyd: says: Birth is not something women just do, it is something we actively choose to do.
The force of law cannot be used to take away options [for how and where we give birth and with whom] sic
Several organizations now working on birth as a human rights issue:
- No woman, no cry – documentary http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-dSmLWDzegQ
- www.halftheskymovement.org: turning oppression into opportunity – see their film work here.
- Amnesty International USA has got involved and written a report called ‘Dealing Delivery’ speaking out about birth care violence in the USA ( which is 50th world rankings for maternity mortality the lowest placed western democracy).
- Mother/Baby human rights and Ten Steps to Optimal Mother/baby maternity services the website (http://www.imbci.org/) says:
Hospitals can work to achieve the 10 Steps as a means of providing optimal MotherBaby Childbirth Initiative (IMBCI) originated from the work of the International Committee of the Coalition for Improving Maternity Services (CIMS). The inspiration and foundation for the IMBCI is based on the philosophy and principles of CIMS, a coalition dedicated to promoting a wellness model of maternity care that will improve birth outcomes and substantially reduce costs, and to supporting new global efforts to improve the health of women and babies. CIMS is a life-long partner in support of the mission of IMBCO.
The International MotherBaby Childbirth Organization (IMBCO) was created in partnership with Childbirth Connection, a U.S. based not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of maternity care through research, education, advocacy and policy. Childbirth Connection promotes safe, effective and satisfying evidence-based maternity care for all women and their families. See previous blog post for the mother/baby rights in full.
- Opportunity to become a Mother/Baby site or ‘demonstration site’ see http://imbco.weebly.com/mbnets.html
- The White Ribbon Alliance campaigns against violence against women. a whole arm of this campaign is about dignity and respect and good care in pregnancy and childbirth. cf their website for stories and campaigns happening around the world. Join the alliance to be part of change happening. Some excellent videos and some shocking stories too. http://whiteribbonalliance.org/campaigns/
The talk ended with singing and dancing!
Birth truly is a human rights issue! And we can be part of making change happen. These websites and organisations show that if we do, we join thousands of women and men around the world who are working towards the same goals. We may feel that our part is small and parochial but be clear our actions are part of a global movement that we can also join and which makes our actions larger than the sum of the whole. Inspirational and challenging!