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Women Birth a New Vision for Maternity Care

Recommendation: Make Birth a Compassionate Experience


US: Coming Into The World In Violence

Arrive in pain. Sign papers. Strip down to a thin little gown. Hook you up to machines that beep loudly and irritatingly so. Stab you in the arm with a needle for an I.V. because you can’t eat for 8+ hours and they need to make sure they can give you drugs at a moment’s notice. Stay in bed. Do not get up unless you ask permission. Lay on your back. Open your legs. They push Pitocin because you’re not going fast enough; cue the intensity of your contractions skyrocketing. Person you’ve never met before is between your legs, giving you orders on how to deliver your child. The sound of scissors unnecessarily cutting a perineum. Push on command in a room full of spectators wishing you’d hurry up and give birth already. Pull baby out. Suction its mouth and nose upon arrival. Cut the cord prematurely. Show you what the baby looks like. Take the baby away to be weighed, poked, prodded. At some point, sign more paperwork while you’re trying to breastfeed.

Welcome to motherhood.

Currently, this scene is incredibly common in many hospitals across the world. From my experience, there are varying levels of how intensely this scenario plays out. After the five births I have attended as a doula, I made a decision to never give birth in a hospital unless it is a dire emergency. Why would I want my child to come into the world so violently?

It is hard to have 'birth' and 'violence' in the same sentence; and yet, in the US where it’s more dangerous to give birth than in 49 other countries, the violence and death is real. African-American women are at almost four times greater risk than Caucasian women. A safe pregnancy is a human right for every woman regardless of race or income. From my experience, this disproportional rate of risk for African-American women grows to include all and any marginalized women in my country. I often pose the question: What message are we sending future generations by bringing them into the world like this? What is happening around the world to birthing mothers is nothing short of mental and physical coercion and abuse.

We have been convinced that home birth is dangerous and that the only safe way to give birth is in a hospital—an idea that is younger than the history of women giving birth in the world. The secret to why many women end up feeling safer in a hospital is due to the underlying notion that a woman’s body is dangerous, and therefore, childbirth is dangerous. It too may as well be a sickness that should be monitored and controlled.

We are coming into the world violently, and this must end. We must find a way to make birth a compassionate, safe, and loving experience for women and their families.

Ynanna Djehuty | US . . .


Rhobai's picture


Exactly. You are to the point

sowershouse's picture


So, it happens too in Lagos. Even here in Abuja, in one of these Government hospitals, the story is horrible! I am still not sure if these nurses know the meaning of the name they are called- midwives, and the symbolism of the uniform they wear- white. Well, I am not here to preach. May God forgive them, all the same.

Jacquiline's picture

Horrific state

I must confess that I am sad reading this story to the point I ask my self does this really happen? I have given birth twice and I have never experienced any bad situation.

The hospital where I go to deliver is very clean and has very respectful staff and the price is well lets say friendly to the pocket(affordable).

I thank God for our country and the far we have come and PRAY that God will instil discipline in the hearts of midwives and nurses to always be careful of how they treat mothers to be and the babies to be born.

olutosin's picture

It was worse

I did not mention my first two nights before the delivery date, I only started from the delivery room. The day I began to experience labour and the water burst was not the day I delivered, I slept at the back of a PICK UP PEUGEOT VEHICLE in the premises of the hospital. It was my first labour, I was afraid to go back home in case the baby decides to force her way our along the road and there was no bed for those who are yet to deliver their babies.

My husband sat down all night watching over me and scaring the mosquitoes away. My experience with Medical Center even after delivery, if narrated will be considered as tarnishing the image of my country. Government hospitals are cheaper, but then, I will never take such risk again.

My conclusion is just solution, not narrating heart-breaking experiences. transformation and not apportioning blames. I have experienced it, I survived, how other women and my daughters too, will not experience same is my concern.

Thank so much for the comments.

Olutosin Oladosu Adebowale
Founder/Project Coordinator
Star of Hope Transformation Centre
512 Road
F Close
Festac Town


Heartrending story Olutosin. I applaud your ability to rise above this and actually use your life as a means to achieve social change!

This is and even more heartrending because it is the stark reality for so many women... I was speaking to a friend who gave a similar experience about having the nursing staff try to push back her baby into her because the staff and labour ward weren't ready yet!

We shall overcome

Maternal Health Channel
Asking questions. Seeking solutions. Saving lives

oreoluwa's picture


Hi Titi,

This is a wonderful write-up and recognition of the role that men play in creating a better world for women. To make any long-lasting and sustainable change, we need to have both men and women on board and working together.

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