Carrie Lee
Posted September 26, 2012 from United States

I just yesterday returned from New York City where I attended World Pulse Live and the Social Good Summit. With a full mind and a full heart, I spent the day soaking in the tub, napping and sitting in my backyard.

I had to do nothing.

Exactly the opposite of what you would "think" one would be inclined to do after being emboldened by the stories and conversation about how we can connect and make the world a better place.

But here's the funny thing: the voice that came out of the nothing-ness, quite different than the one in my head telling me to write up a nice compilation of gleanings from my trip, is urging me to put this out there right now, before I can get in my own way.

A theme that emerged in New York is that WE ARE OUR OWN SOLUTIONS. Technology is not the solution. It is the tool. As I was contemplating this yesterday, I thought,


The way maternal mortality is addressed is about outsiders (with their own limited perspective) coming in and providing a solution (let's pay the women to deliver in hospitals, give them a phone that gives them pre-natal information, etc).

I'm not saying these "solutions" are "bad". But I'm saying this is what I know: As a doula, I always trust in the ability and capability WITHIN the mother. I'm not a solution to a "perfect" birth, I am simply a tool that can assist a mother in accessing information AND her natural wisdom, so that SHE can be empowered and give birth in freedom.

We rely too heavily on our minds for solutions. Social activism can no longer come from that place. We have to change the paradigm to one in which our minds serve our hearts.

I WANT TO KNOW WHAT YOUR HEART IS SAYING. Can we use this platform, this technology to serve us in connecting what is working in maternal health, to what our hearts are telling us?

This has to go beyond complex discussion with blame and judgement for what is not working. This has to go beyond what someone else tells me I need to deliver my baby.

I am asking you to share here what you think (with your heart) would improve maternal health in your community.

Will you comment? because I think it's time to shift this paradigm from solution providers coming into your community, to YOU claiming YOUR power, collaborating with community members and social activists. TOGETHER we can co-create a world where every woman rises in birth.

eMagazine: Maternal Health

Comments 6

  • Mukut
    Sep 26, 2012
    Sep 26, 2012

    Hello Carrie, It is so nice to know that you attended WP Live in New York. Listening to the grassroots women's voices in person must have been a very interesting and uplifting experience.

    Regarding your question about how to improve maternal health in my community, i would say that better medical facilities and improving nutritional quality given to the expectant mother, would help in giving birth to a healthier baby and also safeguard the health of the mother.

    In my country,majority of the women,especially in rural areas, do not have access to regular health check ups. Sometimes managing two square meals a day is also a problem. If at all they do get admitted in hospitas, the unhygienic conditions, make the situation worse,afflicting her with various diseases, which sometimes result in death of both mother and child.

    A lot needs to be done as there are many pressing issues.Encouraging the family members to get the mother admitted in a hospital before the birth,as giving birth at home only complicates the situation further. For this we need clean,proper medical set up.We can have few female (or male) doctors visit door-to-door in the villages,to encourage them to give birth at hospitals and to maintain a healthy nutritional level of the mother.

    I must thank you for bringing such an important topic up for debate. I hope the situation of mothers improve worldwide.

    We need to STOP maternal mortality as a healthy mother guarantees a healthy child and a healthy future.

    Thank you so much again, Much love,

  • Carrie Lee
    Sep 27, 2012
    Sep 27, 2012

    Dear Mukut, Thank you so much for your reply. You are right, nothing guarantees a healthy society more than healthy mothers. That is why I think improving maternal health is key to changing the world.

    I'm glad you brought up nutrition, because improving maternal health means improving nutrition.

    What I hear you saying is that the women in your country need access to proper health check ups, with nutritional education, and access to improved medical centers.

    Thank you so much for bringing your voice to this issue, Carrie

  • Merlin James
    Sep 26, 2012
    Sep 26, 2012

    Dear Carrie,

    Its good that you raised this.

    Maternal health care is a rather wide term. Often, the term is confused with only the period of time, when the women gives birth to the child. However maternal health care is a concept that encompasses family planning, preconception, prenatal, and postnatal care.

    In the Indian scenario, all the above mentioned phases are not very well defined. This stems from the lack of education and awareness among women, traditional nature of families and plain indifference. Now, the crisis varies with location like urban or rural, with income of the family and even with castes like scheduled tribes.

    Despite having one of the oldest family planning programs in the world, India has a fertility rate of 2.9 and a crude birth rate of 23/1,000 persons. Thus statistically, the number of births per female is a rather high number. Such high rates of birth and fertility indicates that on an average woman give birth to at least two children during their reproductive age. While that may sound perfectly normal, however in the rural scenario women may give birth to as many as ten children irrespective of the fact whether they can sustain them or not.

    Thus often they do not get enough time to recover from childbirth. Factors like haemorrhage (both ante and post partum), toxaemia (Hypertension during pregnancy), anaemia, obstructed labour, puerperal sepsis (infections after delivery) and unsafe abortion cause a high maternal mortality rate.

    Our society is caught in the crossroads; emerging from the traditional methods of child birth, government schemes and women’s rights. Caught in this confusion, many families know what is the right thing to do, but they are blinded by superstitions and lack of information.

    And now coming to my point, we as women should volunteer to provide information for maternal care whether it is through Social work, or through people around us. Many aspiring doctors are blinded by ‘money’ rather than the work they ought to do. For them, it is important to remember the oath they took- to work selflessly for the life of another. A recent story of a woman in my place here when it was time for labour was taken to a hospital and due to pure negligence was losing her time and facing danger. Then was taken to another hospital where the doctor was not available and end of this was resulting in the baby's death and the woman's uterus being removed. Now since it was her first baby she has lost the baby and her health and no hope of getting one again.

    Blaming the government is easy, but to become the change you wish to see is difficult.

    We in our organization are making routine field visits to educate the mothers, awareness on sanitation and hygiene, nutrition and care, appointing volunteers for a set of pregnant women to keep in touch with in each village. Boosting them with psychological care and stress management also helps.

    Thanks and regards.

  • Carrie Lee
    Sep 27, 2012
    Sep 27, 2012

    Dear Sharontina, Thank you so much for this detailed reply. I appreciate your bringing attention to the scope of maternal health including family planning, preconception, prenatal and postnatal.

    You make the point that women need access to education BEFORE they become pregnant, which is a vital piece.

    I also find it interesting that you mentioned the crossroads between modern and traditional ways of birthing.

    My question is: While we want to stop the use of unsafe traditions, are there any traditions that can be preserved? I speak to that because in my country, most women rely solely on the doctor's expertise, and they have forgotten to access their inner wisdom. I believe every woman has the knowing inside the cells of her body, she just has to tap into that. My hope is that we can preserve that feminine knowledge.

    Because you are right---It's easy to blame but harder to be the change.

    Blessings, carrie

  • irene madara
    Oct 22, 2012
    Oct 22, 2012

    Its true what you said that technology is merely a tool to help us improve our lives.We need better health facilities to improve the child birth process of all women across the globe.Many women especially in our rural communities give birth with the help of mid-wives who only show up when a woman is ready to give birth.Many of this women do not attend anti-natal care during the pregnancy period because the medical facilities are not available there is no one to encourage them to go for such things to be educated about the changes that will be taking place in their bodies during pregnancy.I am always amazed at how most of the rural women who do not attend this classes still end up having safe delivery in most cases.

    Still even the women who live in urban areas but are languishing in poverty are not able to access medical facilities and attend anti-natal yet the facilities are there is just that they are not able to afford.

    We need to have better medical facilities yes but we also need to make them accessible to all and affordable as well.If its possible to have mobile medical facilities and personnel who can access the rural areas and educate the women on how to have safe pregnancy to avoid such things as still births.

    Not disregarding the mid-wives in the community who are always helpful.What can be done is to educate the mid-wives as well give them some what something like a professional background on delivery and anti-natal and post natal care.

    To encourage women to visit the hospital at least for check up during the pregnancy period.

  • Carrie Lee
    Oct 22, 2012
    Oct 22, 2012

    Thank you so much for your helpful comment! As you say, women need to have access to quality care in pregnancy. I am learning of more and more programs aimed at training more midwives and sponsoring women to get pre-natal care. So that is hopeful. I do feel that even though there are so many women throughout the world who lack this basic access, that there is a huge commitment among women themselves to take back birth. There is so much that women are taking back and I think it starts with birth.

    We must do it together!

    Warmly, Carrie

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