Home Birth Gathering: on our rights

Submitted by ConsciousBabe on Mon, 2012-03-12 14:16

Home Birth Gathering at Erin Hall : Birth as a humans rights issue

Ever wondered about your birthing options?Ever wondered about your birthing options?

‘We’re not anti-hospital, we’re just about sharing,’ says Ruth as we begin. According to her, natural home birth is a valid option for an expecting mother. These gathering events are a chance for the interested to meet up and discuss – from couples to mothers-to-be, doulas, midwives or simply anyone who is curious about the idea of having a baby at home. As it was Human Rights Month, this particular Home Birth Gathering topic was titled ‘birth as a human rights issue’.

First off, we discussed the rights of the patient: to be cared for in a healthy and safe environment, treated with courtesy, dignity and tolerance as well as access to information were among those mentioned. Particularly interesting was the fact that the form women are made to sign (when going into hospital to give birth) gives consent for all sorts of procedures including caesarean and induction of labour ‘just in case’ the need may arise, without necessarily informing them as to what this implicates.

Women often sign consent for birth procedures they do not fully understandWomen often sign consent for birth procedures they do not fully understand

Next a midwife named Robin talked about how many women in South Africa experience a violation of their rights while in labour, sharing heart-wrenching stories and speaking about why this kind of bullying may occur. She spoke too of how her work with medical students focuses on creating more compassionate models of care. The emotional vulnerability a woman feels before, during and after birth means that extra sensitivity is needed.

After this we watched a short film about the Birth Centre situated in the Eastern Cape that works to help the rural local women with the birth process, with emphasis on a holistic approach. These women enjoy a birthing package that includes a pick-up, meal and ceremonial send-off for the same price as the taxi costs to get to the nearest hospital! The stories and images shared in the film were very touching.

Plenty information on natural birth is present at these gatheringsPlenty information on natural birth is present at these gatherings

It turns out midwives internationally have experienced much prosecution from society in the past and in fact continue to do so. Agnes Gereb of Hungary was recently condemned to time in jail for having lost a baby during one of her sessions. Although this is bound to happen from time to time in the birthing practise, midwifery is unfortunately still illegal in Hungary and so the consequences for Agnes have proved more brutal than is likely deserved. (To find out more and sign the petition, click here )

To finish, another short film was screened, this time with a talk from a man called Marsden Wagner, a perinatologist and perinatal epidemiologist from California who was the director of Women’s and Children’s Health in the World Health Organization for 15 years. I found fascinating his comments about pain being a necessary part of birth – serving as a regulator of sorts – especially considering most women who have hospital births are heavily sedated.

Come and hear stories recounted by women with experience in birthCome and hear stories recounted by women with experience in birth

The next Home Birth Gathering is scheduled for July 8th with the theme of 'After the birth…' You can also sign up for the newsletters on the Home Birth Group website to find out about upcoming events or you can contact Ruth on ruth@homebirth.org.za