There are millions of worthwhile charities, so you may be asking, why did I pick the The Rhodanthe Lipsett Indigenous Midwifery Trust.
Close to my heart, Birthing on Country is a program which supports Indigenous women through pregnancy and giving birth by increasing their access to indigenous midwives.
In 2013 only 186 midwives employed in Australia identified as Indigenous, representing 0.8% of all employed midwives.
This program provides a training opportunity to increase the number of Indigenous women qualifying as midwives. These women can then return to their home communities and provide maternal healthcare directly to their people.
Health studies show that maternal mortality for Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is four times higher and infant mortality is three times higher compared to non-Indigenous populations.
Birthing on Country is about giving Indigenous women the ability to give birth in their native homeland and where they are most comfortable. This cultural and spiritual connection is invaluable and is described by women in the program as giving the best possible start to life for aboriginal babies.
Pregnant women are able to establish a relationship with their midwife that helps them through even the most difficult labour or delivery. This relationship gives mothers the foundation to confidently leave the birth centre with their baby in their arms, feeling blessed and culturally connected.
Access to a good medical system for a healthy birthing and delivery is important, but mothers need so much more than this. This extraordinary program offers help and advice in the lead up to that huge moment, and in the days and weeks after it.
One of the best features are the ‘Yarning Circles’, or community consultations where women can share stories and advice openly and without fear or judgement.
Birthing on Country provides health, information and guidance through all the stages of pregnancy, including delivery and post-natal care.
The program also provides information around sexual health, contraception and options for planned pregnancy, so Indigenous women can make the best choices for themselves, their bodies and their babies.
At the moment Birthing on Country is in the early stages (in its ‘first trimester’ you could say…) and is rolling out in Nowra and two other demonstration sites in indigenous communities. With support and success, it will hopefully grow to reach more mums across remote parts of the country.
It is so important for these women to feel like they are listened to. They need a voice.