Saturday, 22 October 2016

Yarn Along

I haven't posted a Yarn Along for a little while, but I have been enjoying everyone else's posts, so I thought I'd squeeze one in this week. I'm reading something I don't really know what I think of, so I'll wait a bit to post about that. Instead I'm sharing what the boys are reading this week:

Hello Baby has become a much loved classic in this house. It's the story of a home birth, told from the perspective of a small boy. I've had it out to help the boys prepare for our planned home birth for baby 3. Rather wonderfully, Sausages has been reading it to Bob, and adding in details from Bob's birth off his own bat. I might have had the odd secret proud tear at that one! I really feel their wonderful introduction is the foundation of their good relationship, and I'm hopeful that they will also meet their new sibling under good circumstances.

The two Sears books I bought this year for Bob, because he is a lot younger at nearly three than Sausages was at the same age. He's not delayed or anything, I just didn't appreciate how unusual Sausages is. I bought these books with a view to helping him develop some expectations of what life will be like in our house when the baby arrives, and to understand that the baby in my tummy will be coming out and joining our family as a whole new person! These are big concepts when you are two! The books are quite American, but beautifully explain these facts for a small child to understand. I'm pretty pleased with them.

I have two big Christmas projects on the needles, both moving at a snail's pace, so I don't want to post them over and over. This week a friend offered to do an incredibly kind thing for me and take care of bob for six hours. That's a long time! And she has a toddler of her own! In the end it didn't come off, but I wanted to say thank you and don't have funds for flowers at the moment. I do have this lovely soft yarn though! I knitted myself a pair of these mittens earlier this year and love them, and I hope she will too.

Happy knitting and reading!


Sunday, 2 October 2016

Why Human Rights in Childbirth Matter book review

I mentioned last week that I had been privileged to attend the Positive Birth Movement's Be the Change event in London, at which I had met and heard some great speakers from the birth community. One lady I was desperate to hear was Rebecca Schiller, and I was lucky enough to have a chat with her and come away with a copy of her book for myself.

Rebecca is the chief executive of Birthrights, an organisation based in the UK that promotes respect for human rights in maternity care. I suppose many readers know that I was a keen student of human rights before I became a mother at home, with a particular interest in the rights of vulnerable groups, so this book is everything I want to read! The book is split into two main parts. The first half of the book explores the human rights issues surrounding childbirth, including what the relevant rights are. The issues are explored with reference to specific cases of human rights abuses. This is harrowing, but I feel that there is such a strange haze around the human rights of pregnant and birthing women that without these real life examples of abuses that have actually happened readers would struggle to work through the subject matter of the book in their own minds. Rebecca goes to great lengths to explain how pregnancy and childbirth have long been used as reasons to divorce a woman from her rights and humanity. A patriarchal medical environment has taught us to justify the violation of women's rights in all sorts of terms, but a woman does not give up her rights to privacy or autonomy or health just because she is pregnant or giving birth. Since these reproductive rights are fundamental to the lives of well over half of women around the world. their continual violation constitutes a major human rights issue, and compounds the marginalisation and inequality of women. Rebecca points out that by improving the standing of a woman's human rights during childbirth in developed countries we can support the protection of those rights throughout the world.

One thing I do feel Rebecca skirted around, however, is the matter of US influence in the healthcare systems of some of the poorest parts of the world. It is known that the US system of maternity care is in crisis. Their rates of maternal deaths are rising not falling, and their rates for cesarean birth are well over WHO recommended levels. For decades the USA has constituted a substantial power in the United Nations and programs of international aid and finance. During this time it has made a prerequisite of aid and development parcels a healthcare and pharmaceuticals system that reflects its own system of private insurance and healthcare paid for at the point of access, unlike the majority of European healthcare systems that are free at the point of access (which is very different from free). The case quoted of the mother who could not afford drugs to end a postpartum haemorrhage that would have ended her life (p67), and those women detained after birth until their care could be paid for (p72), are the clear victims of these policies.

The second half of the book forms a handy guide to human rights, providing specific guidance applicable to women in the UK. This is followed by suggestions for further reading on the subject, and details of other relevant organisations, including those involved in promoting human rights for pregnant and birthing women around the world. This can provide us with practical tools for defending our own human rights in childbirth, those of women birthing in our society, and the rights of women around the world. I highly recommend that everyone involved in maternity care read this book, and especially those going through it. Not to scare them, but to empower them! If you want to read more by Rebecca on the subject this short ebook is also available.

This book is another title from the "Why it Matters" series of concise works on pregnancy, birth and parenting. I am a big fan of this series, and wish all prospective parents could have access to it. All children's centres should have them in their lending libraries!