Birth is a Human Rights Issue

I have thought a lot about “Birth is a Human Rights Issue,” possibly because of hearing so many brutal birth stories. We have been publishing Midwifery Today for 24 years, since 1986.  In those years of publishing birth and midwifery information many, many birth stories have come across my desk. There have been stories of incredible highs and empowerment in birth, forming a strong foundation for mothering. However, often these stories are accompanied by preludes to this birth of one or more horrendous stories the author has endured. Many are just horrible stories with no good birth after.

My own stories are similar in impact. Bad birth followed by good birth often prompts a women to become a midwife or other birth practitioner. I prefer women come to birth work with all good births! You can be just as good a midwife having had all great births yourself. Every birth is a real story of a woman and baby and her family. This really played in my mind when I learned that Strasbourg was the Human Rights Capital of the European Union. The idea that “Birth is a Human Rights Issue” jelled in my mind for the first time when I learned that. The idea of the theme came from the place.

If you can, read ICAN’s book of birth stories, which Midwifery Today was privileged to choose stories from to reprint in our magazine. All are stories of pain, mostly from “unnecessarians.” I cried every time I read them. I still do. They have been made into a book now. I have seen and felt with my sisters both the devastation and the joy these memories contain. Memories of birth, whether good or horrendous, are some of the strongest we have. They are not forgotten. We all want to love our birth stories. It is a right to have the most optimal birth possible. Birth really is a human rights issue. The whole world has offended this right. Let’s change that. Our conference in Strasbourg, France September 29-October 3, 2010 will explore this issue.

Love Jan Tritten,
Mother of Midwifery Today


 Documented Causes of UnneCesareans
by Judy Slome Cohain

Comments

# uberVU - social comments said:

This post was mentioned on Twitter by MidwiferyToday: Jan Tritten's latest blog post "Birth is a Human Rights Issue" http://tinyurl.com/y94s66r

Saturday, February 27, 2010 9:30 PM
# michel2tiffin said:

When a woman becomes pregnant, she and her baby have unalienable rights. First, the right to life: In June of this year, the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a landmark resolution acknowledging maternal mortality and morbidity as a human rights issue.(1) The adoption of this resolution prods governments to “change the way they view maternal death—that is, as a human rights issue no less serious than executions, arbitrary detentions, or torture.”(2)

Next, the right to liberty: The word “liberty” contains aspects of freedom, independence, autonomy, emancipation. These concepts are not usually considered in relation to the childbearing year. It is time to declare that mothers and babies have the right to liberty in pregnancy and birth.

Finally, the pursuit of happiness is of utmost importance to those of us who care for mothers and babies. Most births around the world lead to some varying degree of preventable trauma for the mother and baby. I say it is preventable because much of it is iatrogenic, caused by the doctor or midwife. In many cases, if the mother, baby and birthing process had been treated with respect, the trauma would possibly have never taken place. Instead, the mother likely would have had the most miraculous experience of her life. At the very least, she would have felt a part of the decision-making process if things still did not go as planned. Birth today is a doctor dictatorship in many practices and in many hospitals. Mothers and babies are missing the healthiest possible beginning, both physically and emotionally. Their human rights are being violated.

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