“To work as a midwife is not a human right. Women’s right to health care is.” This was said by Kristina Ljungros, President of RFSU, during her speech at the opening ceremony of the NJF Congress in Gothenburg. To work as a midwife involves a responsibility to work for women’s rights, no matter what. That includes listening to them and taking an interest in what women want.
The five Nordic countries tops the list for the best places to be a mother. That being said, we still face challenges in the health care that we provide for women. When the birth clinic BB Sophia in Stockholm closes down in one week, many women are left uncertain of where to go on the day they go into labour. Due to the lack of hospital beds in the labour wards in Gothenburg, women are being addressed to clinics in other cities. This is unacceptable, women have the right to know where they are going to give birth.
As Hildur Kristjánsdóttir, President of NJF, also pointed out during her speech, one of the biggest challenges for the Nordic countries is the medicalization and centralization of childbirth. In Sweden women give birth in hospitals, surrounded by medical equipment such as CTG, synthetic oxytocin and quick access to epidural anesthesia. For many women the hospital environment is a safe place, a place that instills trust and comfort. But for others the hospital creates feelings of stress and discomfort. It´s well known that stress has a huge negative impact on the delivery process and that it might lead to more interventions. It is therefore of great importance to invest in midwifery-led units outside the hospital and to offer assistance to those women who want to give birth at home.
We need to provide women with alternatives on where and how to give birth, this should be a human right. Midwives needs to raise their voices for this right and fight the medicalization of childbirth. As Hildur Kristjánsdóttir highlighted during her speech, midwives need to take part of decision making regarding reproductive and perinatal health. To be able to do this midwives have to be represented in leading positions on governmental and ministers levels. Only then can we make a change and influence maternity care for the better.
Cover photo: Girls’ Globe bloggers and Swedish midwifery students, Anna Andrén and Emma Wilén speak with Hildur Kristjánsdóttir, President of NJF. Credit: Girls’ Globe.
Girls’ Globe is at the NJF Congress in Gothenburg, Sweden. Follow the conversations here on girlsglobe.org and through the hashtag #midwives4all on Twitter and Instagram. Learn more through the following links: