In early February, I got lucky enough to be able to attend the Human Rights in Childbirth Conference that took place in Mumbai.

It was really the best place to be if you’re like me and you already are convinced about the need to change the system and change things for pregnant and birthing mothers, right from language to recognizing birth as a natural process that does not need so much technology and complications prevalent in our society today. It was also the best place to be if you were new to all these thoughts but had an open mind to absorb.

Even though I had read up a lot on birth and everything surrounding respectful and gentle birth – having had a home birth myself, I was amazed by the dialogues and the openness and compassion of the speakers to understand the problems that were prevalent at the grassroots but still clear about what was needed to be done. I loved the knowledge and experience of everyone in the room and was privileged to be in the presence of such likeminded individuals and positive and humble women and men.

You could feel the passion that everyone had behind the cause and it was more than just being a profession but a real need to make the world a better place for birthing women and the babies and thus the future.

There were doctors present – obstetricians and gynecologists who could do well to use their medical degrees to promote medicine and interventions – but the people who were part of this group were there for everything they believed in and to help to make it a better birth experience for Women.

Dr Neel shah one of the speakers and a gynecologist all the way from Boston really put things in perspective when he showed two pictures: one of a cardiac unit in one of the best hospitals in the US and one in the maternity ward of the same hospital. Both pictures looked like an air traffic control room and were high on technology with a solitary head nurse monitoring dozens of screens. The contrast was that one of those rooms was monitoring the sickest patients with heart disease while the other was monitoring the healthiest. In such a set up, it’s easy to see why births get way more medicalised than necessary: the thinking that it is the hospital and doctor in charge instead of the mother. While this depiction was of the technocratic model in the US, India is slowly following suite in the more elite hospitals. But is this the model we want to follow?

Back home it’s also been very clear that this is truly on people’s minds as this petition by Subarna Ghosh from Birth India’s team has gone viral and garnered a lot of support on and more than the signature campaign the stories that are coming out, the comments and the way it has been picked up by media in India – TV and print as well as the changes happening on the ground, in hospitals around the country, tell us that people are affected and are saying #Enough!

Families and women want a change. The HRiC conference has hopefully been more than a handful of passionate people who want change and say #Enough to not having a say in the labour room. It’s much more than that. It’s a movement for #Respect and making women’s voices count!

Thanks for Reading!

Aloka Gambhir is a mom of two, a lactation educator and a professional babywearing consultant. She also runs the Mumbai Sling Library and conducts monthly meets for babywearing and breastfeeding and writes a blog called WholesomeMamma where she writes about what she loves best: Birth, babwearing, breastfeeding and dealing with her two.

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