Childbirth in South Africa Survey
And now some excerpts from the proposal:
Sarah has had an interest in pregnancy and childbirth since becoming a “big sister” at the age of 3. From there her interested was limited to the arrival of other siblings and numerous cousins. At the age of 25 and living in England, more opportunities opened up to her and what had been a strong interest grew into a passion. She trained as a Doula and decided she would like to take this further by becoming a midwife. In January of 2005 she started a BCur Degree with UWC in Cape Town but by the middle of that year she discovered she was about to get some firsthand experience with pregnancy and childbirth when she found out she was expecting her first child. It was a very difficult decision to make, but she decided to put her studies on hold and focus on the pregnancy and all the preparations that needed to made for the arrival of this unexpected blessing.
After the birth of her son, she devoted herself to being a mother and realized that going back to studying nursing may not be plausible for some time, due to the enormous time commitment needed for that line of study.
Through a number of circumstances she ended up pursuing other more creative interests and was accepted to study Film at CityVarsity. Pregnancy and Childbirth issues continue to be a huge passion of Sarah’s but has been limited to maintaining her website and birth-blog. She continues to do Doula work on a very casual basis through word of mouth, and on one occasion attended a birth as a Doula at the request of a close friend.
Sarah considers herself somewhat of a feminist and takes an interest in various womens issues, but her main driving passion is those surrounding pregnancy and childbirth. She is passionate about making information surrounding this more easily available and sees activism in this area as part of her duty as a Doula. Film-making has allowed her a unique opportunity to bring this worthy cause to light, and to show the amazing work that is already being done by many others in and around Cape Town.
They say that the easiest way to start an argument is to start a conversation about sex, religion or politics. Perhaps pregnancy and childbirth should also be added to this list? Some people have strong opinions about how and where a baby should be born, while others who may not have an opinion on that aspect will at least have an opinion on whether “the doctor is always right” or not.
In a short documentary series, we would aim to uncover what it is that South Africans believe about childbirth and how this compares to scientific studies of childbirth. Do South Africans think that a Cesarean Section is the safest way to have a baby? This is an important question as South African private hospitals have one of the highest c-section rates in the world – being around 70-80% when a safe percentage is estimated to be between 7-15%. Yet despite this rate, the women who really need to have c-sections in state hospitals are not getting them. Newspaper reports also show that Medical Aids may also be assisting this rate by making them the most cost-effective to their members. And what role do medical professionals, such as Obstetricians play?
What is it like to have a baby in a state hospital? We hear horror stories about the lack of medication and a lack of actual care taking place in hospitals in general, and so how does this effect women in childbirth? Many of the women who have their baby’s in a state hospital are doing so because they have no other option (simply due to finances) and go there without any family members or support. At a small number of state hospitals a group of Doulas are volunteering their services and have made a huge impact on the environment in which these women give birth. Perhaps this should be something that should be rolled out on a more widespread basis?
How does South Africa compare to the rest of the world when it comes to childbirth? Holland has the lowest infant and maternal death rate in the world, whereas the United States has one of the highest. We would aim to investigate which country South Africa more closely resembles and if we are following a good example, or if we are setting our own trends.
We would also investigate a woman rights in childbirth, with regards to both her body and her baby. Are women aware of these rights, and what happens when they try to exercise these rights? Do the current laws and regulations governing medical in Childbirth adequately protect a woman’s choice? Do we have enough information available to women from independent sources, especially women from poor backgrounds?
Just remember that this is a "work in progress" and may still change.
I would also like to thank the wonderful, beautiful ladies who have already given me their comments and criticisms of what I have done so far. You participation is invaluable and I look forward to learning more about the unique perspectives and opinions on something that connects all women, no matter who they are or what background they come from.