MeTooBirth

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#MeTooBirth #MeTooIt was almost a year ago that I marched on Washington for the Women’s March. What a year it has been since that powerful and transformative day.

Since then the #MeToo Campaign began – with women from around the world shining a light on harassment, sexual assault, discrimination and misogyny that occurs everywhere, even in places they should feel safe, respected and loved – work, home, church, hospital and more.

Powerful men from all types of places are being outed for inappropriate, illegal, and immoral behavior as women feel their power and strength to come together and stand up for their rights, finally feeling safe(r) to do so. The wave of strength is permeating and growing and it’s a wave that strengthens my mission even more.

When women aren’t respected and treated fairly in their everyday lives, it’s easy to see how this can be translated into their health care particularly when they are giving birth. Everyday women are being told they “must” have cervical exams, “must” have repeat cesareans, they are being subjected to procedures and interventions without informed decision making (or any consent).

“Human rights are fundamental entitlements due to all people, recognized by societies and governments and enshrined in international declarations and conventions”.   The Respectful Maternity Care Charter affirms the human rights of the childbearing women as basic, inalienable human rights and addressed the issue of disrespect and abuse among women seeking maternity care and provide a platform for improvement – The Respectful Maternity Care Charter states:

  1. Every woman has the right to be free from harm and ill treatment – No one can abuse you
  2. Every woman has the right to  information, informed consent and refusal, and respect for choices and preferences, including the right to companionship of choice wherever possible.  
  3. No one can force you or  do thing to you without your knowledge or consent
  4. Every woman has the right to privacy and confidentiality – No one can expose you or your personal information.
  5. Every woman has the right to be treated with dignity and respect -No one can humiliate you or verbally abuse you
  6. Every woman has the right to equality, freedom from discrimination, and equitable care – no one can discriminate because of something they don’t like about you
  7. Every woman has the right to liberty, autonomy, self-determination, and freedom from coercion

When these rights are violated, we are often told to sit down, be quiet, get over it, or that we are being selfish. But these are our HUMAN RIGHTS and when they are violated we should not be violated again by being told that they don’t matter.  Improving Birth has an incredible collection of resources for women who have been violated, including a guide to filing a grievance. Feel free to read and download this guide here.

To honor the #MeToo Campaign, Women’s Right and Childbirth Rights I invite you to share your story #MeTooBirth- as women come together to demand an end to sexual assault, we must demand an end to #BirthAssault too.

Tweet us @OrgasmicBirth #MeTooBirth your story – were you witness to, or given disrespectful, violent, or coercive care in birth? Let’s share our voices to end the mistreatment of women during what should be the most powerful, enjoyable ecstatic day of their lives!

As Oprah said at her powerful acceptance speech at the  Golden Globe award “For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dare speak the truth to the power of those men. But their time is up. Their time is up.”

In childbirth the time is up for the patriarchal model too, we must listen to women, honor the birth giver’s rights and voice and treat every MotherBaby with respect, dignity and love.

As a doula, we bear witness to violations in birth often – it’s important for us to know the rights of the women we support, and to learn ways to support ourselves as we see these injustices occur, as they too can be traumatic and unsettling.  Together we must raise our voices and  share the 5 Approaches to Respectful Maternity Care. and implement the tools in  A Guide for Advocating for Respectful Maternity Care in your community as we each make a difference.

Then, join other moms and childbirth advocates for the March for Mom’s in DC this May! – http://www.marchformoms.org/


I would like to invite you to Join me and Ibu Robin Lim in Bali for our Birth or Postpartum Doula Retreats “Eat Pray Doula” this Spring. Ibu Robin and I will discuss our human rights, ways to protect and nurture ourselves and our clients, and how by bringing respectful loving care to our mothers will permeate into our culture – respect, love and healing.

When a Mother is empowered in birth, and comes out of that experience with strength and love, she will have the strength to empower her own children to respect the world, each other, and themselves. Learn more.

 

 

 

3 Responses

  1. Alex

    I do not have a Twitter account but this is important stuff so I will share a bit here. I went into birth knowing my body and baby were fully capable. I wanted to birth and be left alone to do so on my own time. I wanted a midwife but could not find one in my area and the nearest birth center wasn’t taking anymore women at the time. So many women face limited options which is the first thing that needs to change. I ended up having to birth at the nearest hospital (today I know more and would have freebirthed if I had the knowledge and support then). I had a female OB but of course they have been educated in the patriarchal model, as are many midwives these days. She did not respect my wishes or body from the time I gave her my birth plan to the birth of my daughter. All I wanted was to birth as my body was meant to. BUT she was in a rush and so my wishes, wants, needs meant nothing. I hid in the bathroom laboring in the shower for much of my labor. Once they finally talked me out, because they couldn’t get a good read on the monitor and didn’t know how to check me while on my hands and knees, I was made to lay back in bed to make it easier for the OB (who at one point had one hand in me and one on her phone)…which eventually lead to my exhaustion…and giving in to “help.” Which ultimately injured my baby and caused me to suffer from PTSD for many years.

    It was a vacuum extraction with an episiotomy which was not needed or wanted by me. The OBs rushing, unprofessional, reckless behavior caused my baby’s scalp to tear landing her in NICU for a week.

    All this could have been avoided if only my wishes, time, body and baby were respected and heard. I knew birth worked…what I didn’t know was how hospitals and OBs worked.

  2. Alex

    I would also like to add that I went on to have two beautiful, healing, ecstatic, powerful, spiritual freebirths/unassisted births as an educated empowered choice. Of course freebirth is not for everyone…but having the choices and having those choices respected is so important to the health and well-being of our mothers and babies.

  3. Suzanne Arms

    It was way back in the late 1970s when I first made the connection between some of the abuse in birth and rape. It turned out that anthropologist-author-feminist-birth activist, Sheila Kitzinger of England, had made the same connection around the same time!
    What happened, in my case, was that I was standing in my kitchen talking with a new mother who’d come to see me and listening to her describe what was done to her in labor against her wishes or will. I suddenly burst out with: “It sounds more like a rape to me than a birth. Have you ever thought of that?” And we stood there looking astonished at each other. Then she nodded her head.
    I was privy to many women’s feelings and desires and thoughts and reflections back upon their birth because I’d written Immaculate Deception and photographed and interviewed about 100 women giving birth in various pmentsetting in various states in the U.S. and several other countries. I’m still dismayed and appalled at how little progress has been made. Not only do so many medical and nursing personnel working in hospital labor and “delivery” rooms fail to understand the value of natural (ie normal, physiological, as opposed to what is the “norm” or typical) birth for BOTH the baby and the mother, AND for their bond and future relationship … Most people don’t put any weight on or assign any real value to birth done the way nature designed it to work, as a sexual process and as a critical part of the baby’s brain development and the woman’s evolution into a mother.

    Suzanne Arms
    Birthing The Future

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