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Leah Rocketto

Brazilian Women Fight For Birthing Rights

PUBLISHED ON 08/14/2012

When you gave birth, did you opt for surgical, natural, or water birth? Unfortunately, not all women are given a choice. In Brazil more than half of all babies are delivered via C-section. A statistic that the women are trying to change.

Last month, after a medical agency in Rio de Janeiro forbade doctors from performing home births and labor coaches from helping in hospital wards, the women took a stand. With painted bellies and catchy chants, Brazilian women organized 13 marches to tell the government that it's "our baby, our decision." During the marches, women painted their pregnant bellies and used dolls to enact natural child-birth. Their actions aided in a reversal of Rio de Janerio's policy on July 30.

Although the women managed to stop this law, they still have others to tackle. For starters, doctors charge more for a C-section than they do for natural births. According to the  Associated Press, doctors in public hospitals are paid $74 for a C-section compared to $86 for a natural birth. The AP also reports that doctors require episiotomies (cutting the vaginal opening to prevent tearing) and forbid anyone to enter the room during the baby's birth.

The issue is not solely about the women's right; it is also about their health. Because C-sections require abdominal surgery, women risk developing infections, hemorrhaging, and blood clots.

But change is coming. In response to the protests, the Brazil's federal government is investing over $3 billion into The Stork Networks, a program aimed at educating mothers and health care practitioners on the benefits of natural childbirth. According to the AP, the program will involve a revision of medical school curriculum, an education campaign, and discussion with private health care plans that, as of now, do not cover natural child-birth.

Which birthing method did you (or do you plan to) choose?