Thursday, April 14, 2011

Hope for Change in Kuwait Childbirth!

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead
Newly elected parliamentary members celebrate the passing of the new law allowing women to get passports without prior consent from their husbands. (GulfNews) Living proof that working together we can achieve great change!

Every brushfire starts from a single spark. That’s how change happens too. First the spark ignites within the individual, and as it burns brighter, it spreads to your friends, your neighbors, your community, your country, your region, and eventually the whole world. But first, it has to start with you.

If you look at birth advocacy groups around the world, that’s how change has always started. Inspired by their dreams yet surrounded by a different reality, a conflicting image begins to emerge. The descriptions of physiological normal birth- uninterrupted by unnecessary technology, with an empowered mother making the decisions about where, how and who she births with—begin to contrast sharply with the Birth Story or the stories she hears from sisters about the “complications” in her birth that gave rise to numerous medical interventions. That conflict between what should be and what is, is the spark that ignites change.

Are the images you’ve been raised with—the picture of a mother laying on her back on a raised medical bed with her feet in stir-ups, with the doctor and her array of surgical instruments at the ready—are these images that you thought were “normal” beginning to look distorted? Do you ever feel cheated or robbed of personal autonomy when it comes to making decisions about your own labor and birth? Do you feel inspired by your own or someone else’s birth experience, and want to share that with others? Do you just want optimal maternity services available as an option for yourself and your community? If you answered yes to any of these—join with us! Help us start a movement here in Kuwait towards better maternity services!

Let me share an example. When the “normal” birth advocacy movement began in the 1950’s, women and health professionals began joining together in small local groups to work towards local change.  They wanted more information and autonomy, alternative birth options, and less technological intervention. Soon these local groups met together and created a national coalition, called the Coalition to Improve Maternity Services(CIMS). They wanted to create a consensus document on normal birth that was based on current research and supported by professionals and consumers alike. They came up with the Mother Friendly Care Initiative (MFCI) which was ratified by 26 organizations representing over 90,000 members. 

Since that time, the MFCI has been translated into 14 different languages and has been applied as an instrument of change in at least 39 different countries. This global movement led to the creation of the InternationalMotherBaby Childbirth Organization, and the ratification of an international version of the MFCI called the International MotherBaby Childbirth Initiative(IMBCI). This initiative is being used to help reform maternity care services all over the world. 

Kuwait has always been a leader in the Gulf region- one of the few constitutional monarchies in the region with a blossoming parliamentary democracy. Kuwait has the opportunity to lead the region in another area as well—by being the first country in the region to embrace both a bottom-up and top-down maternal health care reform that will eventually provide optimal maternity care for all women and babies in the country.  

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