When I was in labour with our youngest daughter this past July, we went ahead as planned to have her born at home with the assistance of our midwives. With a background in childbirth education, I was able to manage the pain quite comfortably. Then, as my cervix thinned and opened, it would not move past 9cm. The pain was overwhelming, and I thought as I lay on my bed between contractions ‘what would I be doing if I was without a skilled health care provider?’ I know what I would have been doing- pushing. Pushing, and honestly, freaking out. My midwives explained that if I began to push when the urge was not that strong and I was still only at 9cm, the baby’s head would create a lot more pressure and therefore, swelling- which could lead to other complications. Again, I was grateful beyond words to have the knowledge that I was afforded this privileged information simply because of the place in which I reside.
EVERY minute one woman DIES because of complications due to pregnancy and childbirth. NINETY-NINE percent of these deaths occur in developing countries. For all of the women that die in these complications, 30% more are left with some sort of (perhaps) permanent trauma as a result. In the beginning of the 20th Century, the maternal mortality reached its peak in Canada around 1930 when it neared 600,000 for every 100,000 births. Today, it is below 100 per annum. Goal five of the Millennium Development Goals states that its goal is to reduce maternal mortality by 75% by 2015. So far, this goal has received the least amount of progress.
The White Ribbon Alliance has outlined five key components to creating lasting change. First of all, the politicians not only have to be aware of the reality, they need to start acting and changing things from the level of government. Second, there needs to be continuity of care- so we need women to be seen in pregnancy, have support through labour and birth and postpartum care as well. Third, women need access to health care services that will be effective and reliable on a local and national level. Of course, they need access to drugs, etc. as well. Fourth, there needs to be training for traditional birth attendants- those who are helping on any level of care for maternal care need to have ongoing education to update their skills. Fifth, there needs to be a way of keeping track of the women who are surviving and those who are not. There needs to be a census to keep people accountable to the change that is and is not being made. For every woman that dies now that is counted, there may be another that is not.
What is happening needs to change.
“Women are not dying from diseases we cannot treat. They are dying because societies have yet to make the decision that their lives are worth saving”. -Dr. Mahmoud Fathalla http://www.whiteribbonalliance.org/resources.cfm?a0=video&play=BirthandD...