A few years ago this topic wasn’t discussed much, now it’s hitting headlines almost daily around the world as we face restrictions to labour support, limited access to newborns in NICU, and many other unique situations that are new to the world with COVID19. You might have seen the #ButNotMaternity movement making great waves on social media, or our own #IrishMaternityLockout here in Ireland.
But what are Birth Rights? And why is it so important for us to be thinking about them?
I was incredibly lucky to be able to participate in a fantastic workshop held by the Doula Association of Ireland at the end of 2020. It was run by maternity care expert Dr. Krysia Lynch, an amazing woman who I already knew of from her work with the Association for Improved Maternity Services Ireland (AIMS). If you haven’t had the opportunity to explore the work they do, it is definitely worth the time to take a look at their website and social media to learn more. With so much uncertainty right now amongst the general public regarding what a person’s rights are during pregnancy, birth and the postpartum, I really wanted to take part and find out what an expert had to say. And what a doula can do about it all.
This is an area that has long been close to my heart. I’ve done training with Evidence Based Birth on birth rights, as well as my initial doula training being provided by the wonderful Kicki Hansard of BirthBliss Academy who is actually one of the driving forces behind #ButNotMaternity.
This workshop was my first opportunity to do Irish based training. And boy, was it an eye opener.
BASICS IN MATERNAL RIGHTS
WHAT MIGHT THIS LOOK LIKE?
These are just a selection of what those informed choices might look like:
WHY DOES IT MATTER?
Remember, your care provider is an expert on birth, you are the expert on you. Together you should be able to make the best plans going forward, combining both of your specialities! There may be medical considerations that you want to take on board that your care provider can advise you on, and it is important for you and your baby’s safety to understand that part of your care.
Ireland does not have a great track record when it comes to pregnancy, birth and postpartum human rights (just take a look back through the mother and baby homes, the 8th amendment...), and some policies within the maternity sector are not evidence based, or now outdated.
But your rights are protected by the European Convention on Human Rights, which Ireland is a part of, in which it states "No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" and "Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life...". The Health Service Executive (HSE) also has a published document called the National Consent Policy which they are dedicated to upholding. In short, these give you a basis for challenging anything that you feel violates your basic human rights.
If you have any questions about your Birth Rights, or you feel you need support navigating a difficult issue or question, I am always happy for people to get in touch via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
RESOURCES & REFERENCES:
As a doula and childbirth educator, my interests can vary between anything that ranges from conception right up to growing with your children.