• Do we really value Mothers?

    Posted by Tabitha

    5 May, 2011

    I saw my sister give birth. Yep, that's right! And it was way less scary than most of you are thinking! In fact I found the experience hugely encouraging, and I now understand what people mean by the cliché "the miracle of birth".

    With her husband beside her and the attention of an experienced midwife, my sister was able to labour in a birthing suite at her local public hospital (that of the acclaimed TV program RPA, no less). She had access to a large room, private courtyard and spacious ensuite. She chose a natural water-birth and, thankfully, experienced no complications in bringing her new baby girl, Mabel, into the world. They went home that afternoon after receiving breastfeeding support, and a child and maternal health nurse visited them at home for the next few weeks. I was amazed by the quality of medical care they received. Sadly, this is far from the experience for many women in our world.

    Just last week I got back from a trip to India where I visited the development projects of some of our endorsing agencies. I asked one of the women I met what happens for mothers in her community when it comes time to give birth. She told me that her husband definitely wasn't with her during her recent birth; rather an older woman (who was not a trained midwife) attended her. No one told her what was going to happen before the event.

    I can't help but reflect on the contrast between this story and that day at RPA and wonder at the inconsistencies between my sister's experience and that of so many women living in poverty. How unjust that an estimated 360 thousand mothers die every year of pregnancy and childbirth related complications, 99% of them in poor countries. Having witnessed the birth of my niece and having spoken with mothers in India, I feel all the more indignant at this statistic all the more moved to act.

    I know that my sister and her daughter are no more precious to God than this woman I met in India, but the standard of health care across the globe does not reflect this. On Mothers Day we celebrate mothers in Australia. But given that MDG5 on maternal health is the goal lagging furthest behind, I can't help but wonder, do we really value the mothers of the world as much as we should? As people who believe that all lives are precious, we should be active in advocating for mothers and their children who are living in poverty.

    This Sunday, campaigners around the country will take a simple action by signing a 'Midwife Crisis' Mothers Day card to Kevin Rudd encouraging our Government to allocate $1 in every five aid dollars to maternal and child health. Investing in basic measures like better education about breast-feeding, and the training of more skilled birth attendants could bring about profound change. But in order for this to happen, rich countries need to give maternal and child health the priority it deserves in their aid budgets. Let's hope our Government does just that when it announces its federal budget next week.

    Tabitha is the Communications Coordinator for Micah Challenge.