Safe Motherhood Week is very proud to have the Pregnancy and Medicine Initiative as one of its partners. The purpose of this organization is to raise awareness and help address the information vacuum concerning the use of medicines and medical treatment in pregnancy.
I took the opportunity to ask Caroline De Bie, Programs Director for the Pregnancy and Medicine Initiative 2 questions:
- Why do you feel we need Safe Motherhood Week?
- How would you define Maternal Rights?
Here is what she said:
Why do you feel we need Safe Motherhood Week?
Our society lives with the assumption that motherhood is a protected status, which comes with an onslaught of medical care and information. We see issues of maternal/infant death or poor health in western countries as a result of poor social status or cultural choices – or just “bad luck”.
There are also untold assumptions – that women with chronic medical conditions should not have children and that serious medical issues don’t happen to pregnant women.
Of course, the reality is different: 1 out of 4 women develop a medical condition while pregnant. And there are many, many women who live with a chronic disease (depression, heart condition, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis… to name a few) and still wish to have a family. Yet these women do not have access to the information they need to make important decisions about their and their baby’s health. They are sometimes denied medical care because of the (perceived) potential risk, which most of the time is unproven.
This is part of the larger issue of ensuring every mother – regardless of her medical history or choices – has access to adapted, state of the art, accessible health care. By bringing this issue to light under the umbrella of Safe Motherhood Week we can show that it’s not an isolated issue, nor one that only touches a small number of people, and that it needs to be addressed in an effective, consistent way across Europe.
Shining light on the many gaps that exist – whether they are within the system itself, or because the system is not adapted to the needs of the women who should benefit from it – as a group of organisations who are actively addressing these gaps can only help move things forward with real solutions, since our common goal is better care for mothers.
How do you define Maternal Rights?
Maternal rights touch the safety and health of the mother-to-be and her unborn child, but also of her direct family. Mothers are providers, and if they are not protected in their role as mothers, they can no longer provide for their family. They should have a right to information related to motherhood, to the services and support available to them, to the health risks that may exist for her and her baby, and access to the ultimate health care that will allow her to have her baby safely and in the best conditions, with as little uncertainty as possible – while recognising that every pregnancy, every birth can present risks.
This concerns all parents in society – mothers and fathers.