We stand with Shana – why we need to start talking about our births.
What is the goal of Embrace, you may ask? The answer is simple. We want to radically transform the motherhood experience in South Africa. We want every mother to be embraced and supported to be the best mother she can be. From the start. Tackling this is complex, but we believe there is a void where our collective voice is needed. A better motherhood benefits us all.
On Sunday, we celebrated the newest mothers in our country. We learnt that celebration provides a powerful opportunity to connect in solidarity as fellow women and mothers. The sisterhood is well and truly on fire in South Africa! We were also given an opportunity to listen. We have read, and are reading your stories (if you haven’t had a chance to share your reflections with us, please do so here). It is evident that there is an awakening to the spectrum of realities of women in childbirth. Some are wonderful and compassionate. Others are the height of injustice, oppression and pain.
The system is cracked, and often mothers pay the price. Motherhood brings with it a common, inescapable vulnerability – wherever and however you birth, but we also have a common strength. How we choose to connect in it will define how our daughters and granddaughters experience their motherhood in the decades to come.
Mother’s Day Connect has sensitized us to the spectrum of women’s experiences in childbirth. As a movement, we wish to honour the stories and individual experiences of mothers. Every mother has a story and every story matters. We will not be quiet with our celebration, and we will not be quiet with our pain. Such is the pendulum of the motherhood experience.
Last night, we were made aware of Shana’s harrowing birth story. Her birth happened a few days prior to Mother’s Day Connect. We just missed meeting her in the corridor where she waited, scared and alone. She writes:
“I feel as though a very important time in my life was taken from me, and instead of a beautiful memory of the birth of my child, I now have the trauma of having to protect my daughter from the cold, while we were neglected, without medical care after serious abdominal surgery… The way I was dehumanized, and ripped of my basic human rights has dented my soul.”
Women of the movement are reading her harrowing account. The question remains: “how do we respond?”
The first step is simple: we speak up and we listen to each other. We tell Shana she’s not alone.
Society will not fix what it cannot acknowledge. There are many, many Shana’s in South Africa. We are fed a narrative that as long as we are delivered of a “healthy baby”, nothing else matters – our experiences don’t matter. And yet, we know they do. There is a spectrum of injustice and none of it is okay! The dents in our soul are real….
This is not a lambasting of the public health sector – we know birth injustices are not exclusive to patients of public hospitals. This is not about polarizing women. This is not about pointing fingers. This is about giving the sisterhood a voice. This is about coming together to reclaim our births and declare that we as women deserve better!
Your story matters. Your birth matters.
Share your birth story to social media using the hashtag #MyDeliveryRoom and #WeStandWithShana.
Whether you experienced a serious birth trauma or an act of injustice, or you felt unheard, dis-empowered or disregarded in some way – we want to hear your experience.
Tag Embrace and encourage your friends and family to share their stories too.
Share the stories that move you.
We will share until the groundswell of our stories are too loud to ignore.
We are not alone.