In 2015, I was honored to meet with and be invited to speak at The Human Rights in Childbirth Conference in India, by the wonderful Hermine Hayes-Klein, a Human Rights Lawyer living in USA, who organised the first successful HRiC Conference in The Hague in 2012. Hermine’s heartfelt mission and vision to see all women respected and treated with dignity in the birthing arena started a crucial initiative.

On the 2-5th February 2017, the amazing India Conference was put together by a dedicated group of women and men including the Birth India organisation and Bashi Kumar-Hazard, a brilliant Human Rights in Childbirth lawyer based in Australia.

Human Rights in Childbirth Conference – India 2017

The Conference was eye opening and revealed to me the huge need we have to continue our advocacy on mother and baby rights in childbirth and beyond. The mere fact that we have had to have these kind of conferences is a stark reality that says to me we are not serving mothers and babies in the manner in which they deserve.

It seems that once a woman becomes pregnant her autonomous right to informed decision making is immediately hijacked. The fact that there are organisations and systems whom declare their ownership over a mother’s body with her baby in this rite of passage journey, shows that we have a very strong misunderstanding around the basic tenements of human rights including infant and maternal health outcomes.

I heard many disturbing stories at the conference, that I could not believe were referred to as part of a maternal care framework. Rather, they sounded more like an abusive form of disregard and power based structures that saw their right of domination taking precedent above any kind of heart based understandings.

It seems to me this paternalism has been allowed to run its control for too long without much challenge.

An appalling fact, and not just in India but worldwide. The problems experienced by many mothers, babies, fathers, partners and families are common and heartbreaking to all.

I cannot stress any more clearly “the time has come for change!!”

I was also overwhelmed and uplifted meeting with, and listening to some incredible speakers who have had and will continue to have the courage to call out these damaging attitudes and practises that do nothing to serve a mother’s well being.

I had a strong vision while in India around the fairy tale The Princess and the Pea – I saw the Princess sitting atop a huge pile of mattresses and the pea sitting under the very bottom one. I clearly felt the pea as a representation of a mother’s inner wisdom and the Princess estranged from it.

I saw the need to deconstruct the maternal bed and that human rights in childbirth was the key to this vision. Bringing mothers and babies home through a loving compassionate model of care, that rightfully understands when we love a mother, her body will open.

On the other hand, whilst she feels estranged from her womb wisdom and her baby, she will spend her pregnancy defending her need to be seen and heard in her autonomy, rather than indulging in a place of relational harmonics with her growing baby, partner and family.

In some ways we all carry, on an unconscious level, our own birth hurts, and both personal and generational imprints that can impact the way in which we all view maternal rights. As a collective we are all in this together, and once we can acknowledge the patterns we carry as birth keepers, the more honest the change will be made at a foundational level.

Maha speaking at the Human Rights in Childbirth Conference – India 2017

I hope that I can personally continue my advocacy for human rights in childbirth here in Australia and worldwide with a positive view to highlight the needs of mothers and babies in order that they have a voice. I am blessed to have a voice of privilege here in the West, and despite there being less than optimal care of mothers here too, I do believe that if we who actually have a voice can speak up for what we need – that is Mothers Choice and Mothers Voice – this energetically, can open the gateway for our sisters worldwide who are not there yet.

May we continue to speak the language of the feminine and bring us all home to an awakening of the heart for pregnancy and birth matters because how birth matters is how life flows.

Enriching Humanity through the way in which mothers birth our babies is the way of hope, dignity, truth and justice. The right to respectful and genuine care that places mothers and babies at central position is the way forward for Human Rights in Childbirth.