Every Mother Matters

Posted by on Nov 24, 2015 in Writings

Every Mother Matters

About a year ago a young mother, pregnant and living under a bridge, went into labour. She was a sex worker and we can only assume she stayed under the bridge to birth her baby because she was afraid to go to the hospital to birth her baby. I don’t know. Sadly, the baby got stuck and both the mother and her baby died.

Dudu from SWEAT (Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce) phoned me when she and a group of other mothers were returning from their friend and colleague’s funeral.

“We must do this training Ruth!” she said.

I had some time ago been invited to help facilitate some of the SWEAT Mothers of the Future meetings and there we had shared our birth stories and chatted about pregnancy and other reproductive issues. Mothers shared how they were slapped and hit and shouted at by nurses and midwives for being uncooperative. They felt they were stigmatised for the work they do whilst giving birth. They often felt unsupported.

Three or four mothers shared their stories of birthing at home with no assistance when labour had gone more quickly than expected and how different and empowering and different those experiences were.

We talked about how the mothers in this group could be of better support for one another and we eventually decided that perhaps a doula training would be a good idea.

As part the Compassionate Birth Project, we envision the option of a doula for every labouring mother and initially we thought that our job was to train doulas who could be employed by facilities so that any mother arriving in labour could gain access to a doula. But the SWEAT Mothers of the Future have decided for themselves that what they want to do is ensure that there are doulas within their own networks and communities. Fellow mothers who understand each other and who have walked similar paths.

Makes total sense.

Dudu is a real visionary and she has plans to roll out this doula training to sex worker mothers countrywide.

I like how she thinks.

Yesterday, Robyn Sheldon and I started our training with five beautiful souls who made the journey from their various dwellings, catching buses and taxis to get there. They have made the commitment to be part of this training for the next week.

Yesterday one of the mothers said:

“ If I understand it correctly, to be a doula I need to be able to let go of everything and to just be there for the mother. To be able to fill her with positive energy.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself…the perfect definition of the doula.