Last summer I was honored to attend an important meeting at the offices of the Ministry of Health in Rome with Dott. ssa (Doctor) Serena Battilomo, Director within the Ministry of Health for Prevention along with attorney Alessandra Battisti and Elena Skoko. Alessandra and Elena are the Italian representatives for Human Rights in Childbirth as well as the Italian Representative for International MotherBaby Childbirth Organization. It always interest me, that in a country like Italy, so many women have come to believe that cesarean birth is safer and easier than a vaginal birth. Science shows us that neither of these are true for MotherBaby, unless there is a specific risk factor where the benefits of cesarean outweigh the risks, which science says happens 5 – 15%. In the area where my family is from, in the South of Italy, in some cities the caesarean rate is over 70%. Just recently I heard of a friend of our family who had a cesarean 10 years ago and her scar opened and made is necessary for her to have another surgery. We are not talking enough about the long-term risks of major abdominal surgery. Childbirth Connection’s What Every Pregnant Women Needs to Know about Cesarean Section tells of the many risks both short term and long term with cesarean birth. While a life saving procedure when needed, far too many women are taking on extra harms when the decision to have a cesarean is, not for medical necessity, but instead due to the fear of childbirth. This fear-driven decision making is taking on epidemic proportions from both providers and women creating/making for a sea of technology that gives a false sense of security while putting a generation of MotherBabys at risk, not only physically but, far too often, emotionally. It’s time to invest in providing education, and listening to men’s and women’s fears about childbirth, and together visioning a healthy maternity care system with options that provide comfort, ease, respect and yes pleasure and love, as I know this is possible!
While at the Ministry talking about the International MotherBaby Childbirth Initiative, Doulas and the value of delayed cord clamping, even our recent ACOG Guidelines to Reduce Cesarean Birth, it became clear we all want the same thing- safer birth practices in Italy. I know with years of experience as a birthing woman, childbirth educator, doula and- in the unique role I have been blessed to travel the world and see birth and listen to women, midwives, physicians, ministers of health and more- that we all desire safe, healthy birth, but in some places we have lost the path to get there and need a gentle reminder of the way to unlock our own potential and power.
It is time to bring together a Human Rights framework with quality care and a caring heart. I smile as Alessandria and Elena eloquently bring these points together- the Italian language fills my soul with pleasure and the possibilities that lie ahead from this important meeting.
I was filled with even more hope the very next day, while enjoying being in the audience of the Annual Award’s for Women of Italy, along with my cousin Bianca, and Alessandra and Elena from the meeting. I enjoyed hearing the many ways that women are leading with a feminine vision and power that I know we can bring to childbirth too!