Every minute, there are close to 34 births in the country.*
But are women in our country aware and more importantly, empowered, to make choices related to birthing and motherhood?
We decided to find out.
BabyChakra carried out a dipstick survey with about 150 moms and moms-to-be about safe motherhood, asking them if they feel/felt empowered in their motherhood journey and what they think would make it safer and easier.
The responses were heartening at some levels and disturbing at others.
#Finding 1: Several women are making decisions about their birthing choices but there are equal number of women who feel that they do not have a choice.
54 per cent of moms who took the survey said that they were fully aware of the choices they had and made a decision, while a close 45 per cent felt that they did not have a choice and that their doctor made it for them.
Interestingly, among those respondents who said that they did not have a choice, 83 per cent had undergone a C-Section.
Sonali Shivlani, Pregnancy and Post Natal Consultant and the Executive Director of CAPPA, India, says, “Especially for first time mothers, birth is an unknown concept and information and knowledge are very important. This will enable them to make an informed decision and hence feel more comfortable and safe with their birth experience. Even if a surgical birth is needed, if the medical professional could explain all the pros and cons, that will make the mom more comfortable and at peace with her birth outcome. A doctor as well as a prenatal class which is comprehensive can play a vital role here.”
#Finding 2: Majority of women who undergo C-sections believed that they did not have a choice in their birthing decision.
We asked Subarna Ghosh, Co-founder of the NGO ReRight Foundation to comment on the findings of the survey. She has steered the ‘SafeBirth’ petition demanding transparency in hospitals asking for a law to make it mandatory for them to declare the number of C-sections performed.
Ghosh raises a pertinent point here. “When 40 per cent mums undergoing Caesareans say that they knew options, we could go a step deeper to explore what level of awareness they are referring to. Did they know all the long and short-term risks to mother as well as baby from a Caesarean without accepted medical indications? Also, did their fear of pain during labour influence their decision? This is important as numerous options for pain relief and labour-support like a doula or midwife can help women approach childbirth differently. Caesareans can save lives when necessary but may have adverse effects if unnecessary.”
#Finding 3: Availability and access to Information and family support are two major areas that will contribute to safer motherhood in the country, respondents opine.
Ghosh leaves us with a very important thought. “35 per cent would like better medical care and guidance and 41 per cent want better awareness and knowledge. Thus, 76 per cent of our moms do not feel adequately prepared or cared for during pregnancy and birth. While this definitely calls for hospitals and care providers to improve their quality of care, one cannot overlook the deeper roots of this issue. With 35 per cent women asking for better family support, we know that the problem lies in the gendered ways of larger society. Women’s role in social institutions like family and marriage must be addressed to create a balanced and nurturing environment for mothers to give birth.”
At BabyChakra, we are doing our bit to make motherhood safer in India, one mom at a time.
This article was originally published at BabyChakra