By Heba Girgis
Impunity Watch Reporter, South America
BRASILIA, Brazil—Mariana Mignon knew that she wanted her child born through a natural birth since the day she discovered that she was pregnant. Only weeks before her due date, Mignon completely abandoned her obstetrician, health plan, and her own private hospital room to have a chance at a real vaginal birth in a free public hospital in Rio.
In Brazil, natural childbirth has fallen out of favor, with about 82 percent of children born via cesarean section among women with private health insurance. “If I’d stayed with my health care plan and my doctor, I would have had a C-section,” said Mignon. Brazil, on its own, has one of the highest cesarean section rates in the world.
The trend toward the C-section method may be shifting throughout the country as more women push for more of a say in their childbirth options—whether it be C-section or naturally, home or in the hospital, or with a midwife or a medical doctor. Olimpio Moraes Filho, a head doctor with the Brazilian Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists noted that, “We need to have a serious discussion in this country to see what can be done to change this culture.” “Women are starting to rebel, and they should,” Filho also noted.
The catalyst to this rebellion began in July when a medical regulating agency in Rio made it forbidden for doctors to conduct home births and for labor coaches from helping out in hospitals. In defense of this new rule, the agency argued that “there are many complications possible during labor that require immediate medical attention.”
Responding to this, women began to organize marches in 13 cities around Brazil. In the city of Sao Paulo, women bared their breasts, marched with posters that said “Our Children, Our Decision,” and chanted “Brazil, don’t follow Rio’s example.” By the end of the month, the resolution was reversed by court order and over 200 people gathered in Rio to celebrate the news.
According to the World Health Organization, people should avoid unnecessary surgeries, especially during childbirth—as there are many risks for a mother including infections, complications form anesthesia, hemorrhage, dangerous clots and an even longer recovery.
To reverse the trend toward C-section, Brazil’s federal government has decided to create a program called “The Stork Network” with the goal of “humanizing” the birthing process and teaching mothers and heath practitioners about the benefits of natural childbirth.
For further information, please see:
Mercury News – Brazilian Women Rebel Against C-Section Births – 12 August 2012
MSNBC – Brazilian Women Rebel Against C-Section Births – 12 August 2012
The Sun – Brazilian Women Rebel Against Cesarean Births – 12 August 2012
Yahoo News – Brazilian Women Rebel Against Cesarean Births – 12 August 2012