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The Two Worlds of Mothers and Babies

Sunday, February 04, 2007
Today's Toronto Star includes an article by Oakland Ross entitled "Saving Mothers...and their Babies". It talks about birthing conditions in Afghanistan, where one in nine mothers dies while giving birth, and pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death for women, whose average life expectancy is 45 years of age.

According to the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada's International Women's Health Programme, the situation in Afghanistan is not unique. Over half a million women die world-wide as a result of pregnancy and childbirth-related complications and 99% of maternal deaths occur in low resource countries, often within the poorest communities.

In the same issue of the Toronto Star, Jennifer Wells writes about the "baby spa" and "parental pampering" trends: "Taking the Stress Out of Being Infantile: As the appetite for personal pampering expands, the clients themselves are getting smaller. Welcome to the world of baby spas". Jennifer Mattar, owner of Toronto's Sukha Health Spa and Amy Halpenny, founder of Toronto's Ella Centre for Pregnancy and Parenting (where I used to teach parenting classes) are both featured in the article.)

The article also talks about the commercialized version of the babymoon (as opposed to the Sheila Kitzinger-inspired babymoon, which involves spending time getting to know your baby after the birth).

The contrast couldn't be more striking: a world where getting a new incubator is cause for celebration and a world where spa services have almost become commonplace. Can we find a way to take care of our own need for pampering and still be generous with other people, both in our own communities and around the world?

[continued after a brief intermission]

The amazing women (and men) behind Mothers Acting Up seem to think that's possible. This grassroots organization is "dedicated to mobilizing the gigantic political strength of mothers (and others, on stilts and off, who exercise protective care over someone smaller) to ensure the health, education and safety of every child, not just a privileged few." (The stilts bit refers to what has become the claim to fame of this group -- the fact that the group puts mothers on stilts at its Mother's Day parades. Here is their recipe for making your own stilts, by the way.)

And the moms behind another U.S. grassroots organization -- MomsRising.org -- know that there is far greater strength to be had when mothers join together rather than when they try to fight systemic problems on their own.

Besides, working for change is creative and life-affirming work -- and it doesn't have to be as impossible or time-consuming as you might think. What matters is that you see the injustice and that you feel motivated to do something about it.

Here's a terrific Activists Handbook -- a no-nonsense guide to making change. (I like this one because it's practical and down-to-earth and points out a lot of the potential perils and pitfalls you might encounter along the way. It's as important to know what not to do as what to do, right?)

Toronto Community Foundation: Getting a Good Start in Canada -- and in Life
Toronto Community Foundation: The Gap Between Rich and Poor
Are Poor People Less Likely to Be Healthy Than Rich People?
Special Report on Maternal Mortality and Severe Morbidity in Canada
Growing Gap, Growing Concerns Data (.pdf)

Mothers Acting Up
Make Poverty History

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| posted by Ann D @ 11:00 AM