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I will not die giving birth

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...

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Nusrat Ara's picture

Hello Darcy, It's really

Hello Darcy,

It's really shocking when women die of something so easily preventable yet maternal mortality is so high in most of the countries. We need to change our priorities and put maternal health at the top.

Love

Nusrat

Darcey's picture

the reality

Hi Nusrat,
It is always good to hear from you. How is it for women where you are?
What shocks me really, is that humans can treat other humans as though their lives have no value at all. I live in a country that is peaceful, where people are polite, and of course a whole lot of other issues going on, but for the most part, there is very little chance that a woman is going to die giving birth because of poverty, or others don't think that she is worth saving.
There is a heart-breaking article on the TIME magazine site called Dying to Give Birth. I was overcome. The story of Mamma Sessay, an 18 year old whose image was captured and written about while she was waiting to give birth to the second twin the day after the first was born. The photographer captured her looking somewhat peaceful, to completely shocked as she was sitting up on the table, blood on the floor as she was haemorrhaging, blood pressure dropping, and by the end of this 'photo shoot' she had died. She was forced to marry at 14, had her first child at 15 and was dead at 18 giving birth.
When we hear about maternal mortality, it is the same as hearing about other issues....but something changes when they have a name...when these women have a face, when you see their family collapsing at the news of their death and the image of their infants who now have no mother. We need to keep it real to keep it a priority.

thank you for sharing your voice. I am very interested to hear how it is that you see women around you in pregnancy and birth.

love
Darcey

"A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality."
— John Lennon

Nusrat Ara's picture

To say the least the

To say the least the healthcare here is disgusting. I will make a post someday with all the details.

Love

Nusrat

AchiengNas's picture

Great article!

Darcy,

I LOVE your journal!

Women are still at a greater risk here in Uganda. Someone can never be sure of life until they give birth safely. Women in the so called MAIN hospital in Uganda have no medical attention during labor, you suffer with your pain until the midwifes see the baby's head coming out. The rich are cared for ofcourse. The poor have nothing to offer the nurses and once in a while doctors, so they suffer the consequences of their poverty, those who die in the process are pulled out (on the ground to the dumping stuff) like dead rats. I have seen this with my naked eyes.

UGANDA is one of the countries with the highest child mortality rates in the world, according to the latest Unicef report.

According to the 2009 State of the World’s Children report, Uganda holds the 21st last slot out of 189 countries.
There is an under-five mortality rate of 130 out of 1,000 births in Uganda, according to the report which uses the 2007 estimates.

Under-five mortality rate is the probability a newborn baby will die before reaching the age of five. This is an internationally used indicator children’s well-being.

Maternal mortality also remains high in Uganda at 550 per 100,000 live births.
Women die as a result of infection and haemorrhage.

I believe everybody has the potential to live a better life. Given the Opportunity, Education and Motivation ANYONE can become someone admirable. Nobody is a NOBODY, everybody is SOMEBODY.

Darcey's picture

checking in

thank you, thank you so much for your response. I have little time to give a thoughtful response, but that is what I want to do....and to discuss a few things that you brought forward. I am very touched by your words, and as I have more time this afternoon to give a thoughtful response, I will do that.
many, many blessings to you
Darcey

"A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality."
— John Lennon

That was a quoted saying from a report that I just read last week. The difference in our realities because of where we live is astounding. With the amount of life-changing power that giving birth and raising children has, I can't imagine the question of "will I even survive this?" being added on top.

There was also a story on the report as well that told the story of a female Ugandan doctor that died giving birth..of course one of the only doctors in her area. (the report is from The Atlas of Birth). Your statements that the women who die in the process are pulled out like dead rats is like a stabbing in my heart. I have not seen it, but I can imagine.
Why don't women matter? Is it really simply because of money? I say that in one of these moments where I just have a hard time believing we treat each other this way.

We work with a young woman in Uganda. We sell her necklaces here so that she has been able to put herself through school where she lives, in Kamoala as well. So, I am always very interested to hear of what life is like for girls and women in your country.

I am so glad, again, that you took the time to read the post and I look forward to keeping in touch and sgharing ideas.

Blessings,
darcey

"A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality."
— John Lennon

ikirimat's picture

MMR is 435 per 100,000 live births

Infact the issue of MMR in Uganda is still a major issue and I am glad that some of the political aspirants are raising it in their campaigns. I really hope more effort is put in improving this statistics. MMR is estimated at 435 per 100,000 live births according to the UDHS 2006.

Actually, I am a victim of the poor medical services in Uganda. In 2005, I lost a baby in child birth due to prolonged labour while in Mulago Hospital (private ward). Despite my ability to pay for the service, the health workers where not there to do their work.

With this kind of poor services, shall Uganda achieve the MDG target on maternal health especially that the majority of these women are in rural areas where there health services are poor?

Grace Ikirimat

"It takes the hammer of persistence to drive the nail of success."


Darcey's picture

still standing

Thank you for your feedback, and I am sorry to hear about the loss that you had to endure. I can not imagine having to face the loss of a child- no matter how old they may be at the time.

It is my sincere hope that as we work on things, women here realize that they are afforded the luxury of health care because of the location in which they reside. I am thankful for a man in Canada named Tommy Douglas who worked to usher in healthcare for the masses, in spite of what little income they may have had. Even in the United States, unless people have insurance, they can find themselves in a very unfortunate circumstance.

Sadly, I don't think a lot of countries will meet their targets by 2015. Hopefully, some momentum will be gained and some time can be made up for.

blessings,
Darcey

"A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality."
— John Lennon

Sharese's picture

Wonderful post Darcey!!

Thank you for shedding light on this issue- it is so relevent and paramount! I am currently working toward getting my degree in nursing for exactly this issue!! I want to spread knowledge and empowerment surrounding family planning with women all over the world.

I checked out the White Ribbon Alliance link- great resource Darcey :)

You. Are. Amazing.

In love,

Sharese

Darcey's picture

It is my passion

I could go on and on. Believe me.

We need nurses, people in the field who believe that these women matter. That is also partly the reason that I got into childbirth education. I believe that one day it will be used well.
Family planning needs to be talked about. I have a wonderful political cartton around the issue of the politics of abortion. I will scan it later and post it.

oh, and just a little seed to plant...we are at the beginning of planning an International Women's Day event thtough MotherKind..... ;) and maybe we would need a guest speaker or workshop leader to speak about working with young women in Jamaica, or something similar.....

ok- and one very silly little side note...in regard to the 'you. are. amazing.'- we don't have tv, so we rent dvd's for the kids...and we see one each week for our family movie night. we watched one called Bolt, it is by Disney, and there is a little hamster (?) that is so great and he says "you. are. awesome!" really, he is so great it is worth watching the movie.
lol- have a great weekend.

much love!!!!

"A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality."
— John Lennon

Sharese's picture

YES!!!!

Can we PLEASE make the MotherKind workshop happen? If you let me know what you would like the talk to be around and what demographic you would like to target, I could make an AWESOME cirriulum- it is kinda my thing...

I am super excited now :)

Much Love!

Sharese

vivian's picture

We have same passion for

We have same passion for women's health especially in pregnancy.

You have written a good article on Pregnancy and concern for change.

In the past, pregnancy use to be a thing of joy but with several cases of maternal mortality it is becaming a thing of sorrow filled with fear. I have heard many women say, they are afraid to get pregnant because of pervious experience.

Women die while giving Life. Why? You have carefully listed the reasons as given by the white ribbon alliance. If only a real concern is giving to women, then a change will occur.

In Nigeria, the rate of child and maternal mortality is high. The attitude of the health attendance in primary health center is unbelievable especially when it is a teenage girl. More complications in older women and poor ANC.

Sometime, pregnant women themselves do not adhere to instructions and advice from health providers but want to do it their own way and believe God will help them. Yes, God is an awesome God and can do all things but we also need to play our part first. Many of them do not attendant ANC and do take their normal routine drugs. Another problem is that nigerian believe so many in self medication. This could endanger their health. All the same, women should not die when giving life. They need to be protected, care for and be saved.

Keep writing.

Vivian

''Every woman have a story at every stage of Life''

Darcey's picture

Keep the Passion

Hello Vivian!

it is nice to hear your voice here. I really love the points that you have raised, about using the excuse that God will protect in times of need- which I absolutely believe, BUT, I believe that God gave us each other to teach each other so I agree that we definitely need to play our part. I have been trained as a chidbirth educator, and the biggest thing that I came away with was giving women informed choice. So, we need to know what the research says, what the reality is so that we are not afraid of birth but also do our part to make the best outcome possible.
I have had all 3 of my children at home, so I know it is possible for women to get through childbirth without meds, etc. Our bodies produce hormones to help us get through those pains, and if we know how to work with it then we can get through. What it comes down to, I believe, is that we need to have the health providers in place if the need arises. Women need to know the warning signs and when to get help, and of course a huge part in this is a supportive family and a health system that is functional.

I absolutely believe that there is hope. We have just joined with CAUSE Canada to begin the first midwifery sponsorship program nationwide. There is much to learn and figure out as we go, but if we can start really supporting the grassroots effort, a difference can be made. The Birthing Hut program of CAUSE is in the rural areas of Sierra Leone, a nation with high incidence of maternal mortality. A difference can be made when we get programs in place. Lives are being saved, and that is reason to celebrate. A lot of work needs to be done.

So, how do we change the thinking that these are just someone else imposing ideas? How do the women get to realize that yes, taking measures in health care can improve their chances of survival? Education? local meetings? what do you think?
I agree that age is a factor. The article that I had mentioned to Nusrat from TIME magazine took place in Sierra Leone, but showed the mother of the 18 year old that died in childbirth on her way back to the village nursing a young son herself.

Thank you for sending your thoughts, they are all so valid. These conversations really help me to keep going because I feel these things in my heart and I can understand, but I do not see these women and girls in front of me every day.

with love
Darcey

"A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality."
— John Lennon

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