I shared this article on Facebook entitled The WHO calls for sustained investment to increase midwife numbers. As the title suggests, there is a huge push for countries to find the money to educate midwives so the horrific death toll of moms and babies might be halved. WHO being the World Health Organization.
“All her life, Roya has known that her life was inextricably linked with her mother's death. Within hours of her birth in a small village in rural Afghanistan, Roya's mother had bled to death.”
“She was one of the thousand women who die each day in childbirth. In addition, every year more than 7 million babies are stillborn or die shortly after birth – the majority from preventable conditions.”
The article goes on to say, "Fragile states", such as Afghanistan, need particular attention. The number of women who die in childbirth in conflict countries is almost double that of women in non conflict countries. Fifty per cent of under-fives who die, live in fragile states. Yet very little of the funding received by fragile states is long-term or predictable.”
Finally, Roya, who is a new midwife, says, “’I have always wanted to prevent women from going through what my mother faced,’ she says. ‘Midwifery is so important to reducing the mortality crisis. If mothers are healthy, a country is healthy and strong.’"
My comment with the posting, a pretty off-handed comment at that, was, "Ironic, isn't it... that the rest of the world is craving midwives and here, women are UCing?"
A UC is an Unassisted (Child)Birth a birth with no midwife or other trained provider in attendance. This birthing choice is highly controversial and I've written nastily about it in the past. I'm really trying not to be so nasty anymore, but it's a distinct challenge. I cannot, however, stop talking about my views on UCs; hence this post which almost wrote itself as I read the original article.
A comment to my Facebook posting came in from my friend and midwife Colleen Scarlett. She says:
"It annoys me to no end, having been raised and having birthed in the developing world, to hear Western women glorify birth in the developing world or birth in pioneer days as proof we should 'trust birth'.
"Every time I hear someone say, 'What did women do 200 years ago?' I want to say, 'Well, they DIED. OFTEN.' If you have ever been to a cemetery in New England that has gravestones from the 16 and 1700's, you will see Old Farmer John's gravestone, interred at 70 years old, buried alongside his 5 or 6 wives, all dead in their 20's, oftentimes buried with their newborns.
"Or when I hear someone say, 'Women all over the world squat in the fields and get up and go back to work,' I cringe. First off, I don't know of any culture where women simply squat in the fields, birth, and get right back to work because that baby would have a dead or dying mother in a few hours. The real truth is, globally, where women birth without an attendant, it's because either there's very little value placed on her life, there's no money to pay for an attendant, they live too far away from an attendant, or the attendant doesn't carry hemostatic drugs. And in those countries, women go into their pregnancies and labours praying they don't, but expecting to, die."
Many/Most of us who birth in the Western World, unless we've been elsewhere for any length of time, cannot comprehend the luxury it is for women to say they want to UC. Constant refrains from UCers is the close proximity of hospitals in case something happens. Imagine if those hospitals were three hours away and you had to walk to it and they would only let you in if you had the money... all with a massive hemorrhage going on or a shoulder dystocia. Would you want a midwife in your village then? I'm betting yes.