A Birth Worker’s Reflection on Mother’s Day
On May 4th, while volunteering at my daughter’s school, I noticed many teachers wearing Star Wars T-shirts. Being foreign to both the American culture and to the Star Wars fan club, I failed to detect the meaning behind this collective fashion decision of the teachers. But later that day, when my daughter came home from school and shared the meaning with me, I was inspired to give this idiom its meaning from the perspective of my club – the birth workers club, and of another holiday, closer to my heart, that we celebrate in May – Mother’s Day.
Birth workers all over the world are a force. We are the force that is being with new mothers and making sure each of their transformations along the path of motherhood goes as smoothly and healthily as possible. We protect, support, and empower birthing mothers and new families. We are the force that fights their cultural battles; calling our politicians, physicians, human right activists, and reporters to put mothers and maternal care on their social agenda, and it better be the first item on the agenda if they want a healthy nation!
This Mother’s Day, I want to recognize some of the major battles this force fought with great success:
- The right to the supportive presence of family, friends and doulas.
- The right for breastfeeding support.
- The right for more comfortable environments for labor and birth, such as the use of shower, physio balls and peanut balls in L&D rooms.
- The elimination of routine episiotomies in some parts of the country.
- The growing number of hospitals hiring hospitalists and allowing TOLACs (Trial of Labor after C-section) and VBACs.
- The movement towards individualized maternal care that has been accomplished with hospitals handing parents birth plan templates to fill out.
- The battle for intermittent monitor policy that allows mothers more freedom.
All these changes and more have been achieved by the force of birth workers around the world.
I know the situation is far from being perfect, and there is a lot more work ahead of us: routine electronic fetal monitoring remains widespread, even though it doesn’t improve outcomes and raises rates of unnecessary cesareans. There is an epidemic of inductions of labor, which increases labor complications. Epidurals are still being pushed by the medical system as if they were vitamins, and not identified as dangerous drugs that can slow labor, generate fevers and necessitate further interventions for both mother and baby. Cesarean rates are still skyrocketing at 32 percent. Birth doulas are not being covered by insurances. Maternity leave is ridiculously short and is considered a vacation rather than work which should be compensated by the states. However, on this mother’s Day I choose to acknowledge and recognize the positive change created by the force.
Mothers and birth workers; may the force be with you!