Thursday, 8th March 2012 is International Women’s Day – a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future. International Women’s Day honours the work of the Suffragettes, celebrates women’s success, and reminds of inequities still to be redressed.
In honour of International Women’s Day, I’m celebrating the efforts of a woman who has been instrumental in helping thousands of other women feel more comfortable standing in their own power and reclaiming their ability to have an easier, more comfortable birth. I’m also highlighting inequities still to be redressed – a woman’s right to give birth where she chooses and the right for a midwife to attend and assist at a home birth.
The woman I’m celebrating is Marie Mongan, founder of HypnoBirthing – The Mongan Method.
Mongan, the recent winner of One World Birth’s Birth Hero Award, put together a full antenatal program in the 1980s, developing the knowledge that led to her own successful use of self hypnosis during childbirth over 50 years ago. It aims to educate couples on the finer details of labour and birth that are sadly still not common knowledge. This ante natal education, in addition to many techniques for relaxation and overcoming fear has enabled its female participants to take back control of their birth experience, so often devolved to caregivers. It has also empowered quite a few fathers-to-be by encouraging them to be an advocate and support for their partner, rather than an ignored bystander!
Mongan’s course opened my eyes to the fact that medical opinion was just that – opinion. I don’t think I would have dared to challenge that opinion without taking the HypnoBirthing course, and feeling the confidence to stand up for what I believed was best for me and my baby. Although circumstances changed, I was able to ask questions in order to make my own decisions based on all available information, rather than have decisions made for me. It shouldn’t be underestimated how many women have no idea about what is going on with their body during labour and as a result give up their power to others to make decisions for them.
In today’s society, the threat of potential litigation is eroding a woman’s right to choose how and where to give birth. What should be a natural experience (when both mother and baby are in good health) is now being turned into a medical one. There will always be a need for medical assistance to help save lives for those in a high risk category …however, should women with pregnancies assessed as low risk be forced into the same routine?
A woman has a primal urge to give birth where she feels safest. For some that could be a high tech labour ward with operating theatre nearby… for others it may be the familiar surroundings of her bedroom, with just her birth companion and a couple of midwives for assistance should she need them.
Several countries have made it legally very difficult for a woman to choose home birth – legislation preventing midwives from obtaining insurance cover is spreading, highlighted recently in the court case against Hungarian gynaecologist/midwife Ágnes Geréb. There is a petition to grant full clemency to Ágnes Geréb which you can sign here.
“Hungary has legalized home birth, yet midwives who attended home births before legalization have been harshly imprisoned. On February 10th, 2012, the Budapest Appeal Court announced the verdict in the case of Dr. Ágnes Geréb (an OB/Gyn as well as a midwife) and four other Hungarian midwives. The terms of Ágnes Geréb’s sentence of two-year imprisonment were tightened, a ban on practicing doubled to ten years.”
Surely in an era where women have the right to vote, they should also have the right to choose how and where to give birth?
This entry was posted on Thursday, March 8th, 2012 at 07:30 and is filed under Article.