or Human Rights in Childbirth
Awareness Pillar #1
What exactly are Birth Rights or Human Rights in Childbirth? In Oct 2016, we attended the 4th annual Human Rights in Childbirth EU Summit in Strasbourg. Click here to read more -->
Why is this an issue?
"The substantial rise in obstetric intervention since the 1970s in most developed countries is a longstanding and continuing cause for concern" - 2010 European Perinatal Health Report
The Western world is currently experiencing an upward trend in medical intervention at birth without proper consideration of the consequences for humanity. It is time to develop a NEW Paradigm now. A paradigm where a symbiotic revolution will bring nature and technology into a mutually beneficial relationship to co-exist.
Michelle Odent at the 2016 Heal Birth, Heal the Earth Summit in Scotland, Findhorn.
"There is no denying that medical interventions have saved countless lives. However, 85% of pregnancies and labors can proceed without major complications. Only 15% need intervention. We cannot sit on our laurels as we did in the 1980s and enjoy the fruits of the labor without striving for consistently evidence-based best practice for every woman. Women need to be free to make informed decisions based on their first-hand knowledge of alternatives. We as professionals owe it not only to the women we care for but also to the babies who will be our next generation.
Keep educating in every way you can.
Use every means available.
For it is not the birth professional banging on the hospital door that creates change.
It is the informed and educated consumer."
A baby’s experience of conception, pregnancy, and birth creates lifelong consequences for individuals, families, and society...
“World ecology has to start with womb ecology". Thomas Verny. MD.
the rate of medical interventions are alarmingly high and although consumers are required by law to be informed of the risks and alternatives of proposed interventions, this does not always happen in practice (see next section) and consumers are often not aware that they HAVE A CHOICE, their rights and of the consequences of the medical procedures (in many cases, the snow-ball/cascade of further interventions following the interruption of the natural, innate birth-process.)
It is therefore recommended that consumers supplement any hospital-based childbirth education with an independent evidence-based provider to get the full picture.
Informed Consent in Luxembourg
Click below for the results of a survey of women's experiences of "informed consent (a universal human right in childbirth) in maternity care. Prepared in preparation for the Human Rights in Childbirth EU summit 2016 in collaboration with Initiativ Liewensufank:
What we've been doing
Positive Birth Movement Group
We have joined forces with the global movement, Positive Birth Movement and launched our monthly, free-to-attend Positive Birth Movement group with the aim to:
Challenge the culture of negativity and fear that exists around birth
Share positive birth experiences
Share information about choices and rights in childbirth
Encourage women to raise their expectations of childbirth
Empower women to approach birth differently.
Empowered Birth Workshops
The Empowered Birth workshops educate expecting parents with the aim to:
Increase their chances for an empowering and positive experience
Help them understand all their options and the elements that can influence their experience.
Understand your rights and how to communicate them respectfully
Help them understand how individual birth is for each person
Help them understand the "birth culture" in Luxembourg
Educate them on the type of questions to ask to get you closer to THEIR unique goals in pregnancy and birth
Inspire towards informed decision-making versus fear-based decision-making
We are passionate about Birth and ensuring that families receive individualised, family-centered, respectful Evidence Based Care under informed consent. Pregnancy, birth and early experiences have lifelong consequences on societies.
Universal Human Rights in Childbirth is still a very new concept:
"Every woman has the right to be respected as the decision-maker about her own care and her baby’s care. Every healthcare system should be equipped to meet women’s individual needs and personal decisions around childbirth."
We launched a Birth Rights Awareness Campaign in 2016 to raise awareness and enable access to the well-studied evidence-based benefits for families to the option of independent and continuous non-medical labour support (as complement to the medical team) of their own choosing (thereby - from a familiar person) which in turn improves health and mental outcomes in birth. Read more about our campaign here and join our Campaign Team if you are passionate about the topic: #choice2haveadoula.
The reason we chose this as starting point:
The phenomenon of continuous, professional labour companionship has been well studied and as Evidencebasedbirth.com explains "Of all the ways birth outcomes could be improved, continuous labor support seems like one of the most important and basic needs for birthing people. Research has shown that labor support from doulas is both risk-free and highly effective."
The World Health Organisation states that every woman worldwide should have access to Birth Doula support.
The International MotherBaby Childbirth Initiative recommends that Care Providers inform families of the benefits that Birth Doulas bring.
The Motherbaby-friendly criteria by Unicef & WHO stipulates that birthing women should be encouraged to have continuous birth companionS of their choice.
In 2014, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists acknowledged the doula as “one of the most effective tools” to improve birth.
The Birth Experience is immensely important and having the choice to have Doula support AS COMPLEMENT TO MEDICAL CARE FROM MIDWIFE AND/OR OBGYN at birth should be a viable option for any family (without having to exclude the birthing woman’s partner in the delivery room).
Expats in Luxembourg giving birth are even more vulnerable in birth due to the language barrier and could benefit greatly with a chosen birth companion as close as possible to their mother tongue.
Furthermore, it goes without saying that families should FIRSTLY also have access to autonomous midwifery care from traditionally trained (according to international standards) midwives. Currently in Luxembourg, this is not possible due to the longstanding inequality between the midwifery and obstetric profession (with its 400-year roots in PATRIARCHY) which is so deeply embedded in the local "Birth Culture".
This important, much-needed change requires a complete maternity care system overhaul of which the Association Luxembourgeoise des Sages-Femmes have been working towards.
But in the mean time by raising awareness of the instant benefits of continuous uninterrupted labour support, consumers can experience immediate benefits without changing the whole maternity care system.
Mounting evidence and the fact that more than 50 countries worldwide have already made this choice accessible to families doesn't mean it is going to be welcomed by Luxembourg's unique maternity care system, which is a pity as out-of-hospital options for those seeking undisturbed/low-interventionist, physiological care are very slim.
Furthermore, the midwifery/obstetric inequality does not make the entry of another type of support to the scene, straight-forward as many midwives are frustrated and we do not blame them. We love midwives (and doctors)! And we love families & their babies!
In 2018 we visited the Midwifery Today Conference in Germany where hundreds of midwives AND doulas (and other birth-workers) from all over the world harmoniously and peacefully engaged together, realising each other's value + role while advocating for change in their communities without undermining each other's efforts, because they realise and understand it's not about them but about the best interest of families, their babies and the future generations... Alone we are strong, but together we are stronger!
To show our solidarity and deep appreciation toward the true role of midwives we started collaborating with the Association Luxembourgeoise des Sages-Femmes ("ALSF") to advocate for the autonomous traditional continuity midwifery model of care which should also be an available choice for families (and big contributor to the high rate of medical interventions in Luxembourg), we have also launched the campaign: #choice2haveamidwife.
In May 2019 we hosted the 1st Birth Culture Brunch in Luxembourg themed #choice2haveamidwife. Click below to read more about the event in the media section.
The state of maternity care is not a commonly discussed topic in the public arena even though birth is of the utmost importance and in a prosperous, advanced country there is no excuse not to strive towards excellence in this arena.
Luxembourg is a leader in so many areas.
We have created a FB group with the aim to open communication channels towards transparent discussions because anything is possible if we collaborate together.
Join our Birth Culture Luxembourg FB group here:
May 2019: we contributed a submission to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on violence against women in particular highlighting informed consent in practise with medical procedures and lack of respect for privacy (which includes freedom of choice in choosing the conditions of childbirth due to failure by the State to provide all the evidence-based options in childbirth: model of care, birth settings and continuous labour support.