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Personal Story

We Must Speak Up – Estela

Since I was 15-years old, I accompanied my grandmother in her practice. More than anything, I decided to choose this path because seeing the love that my grandmother had for the women she attended. It was very beautiful. It was a nice feeling of belonging and being heard. Seeing how my grandmother accompanied the women, how she talked to them—the connection that the women have with the midwives is what is special. What they have with us is that connection of being able to talk, of being able to speak about their lives, which makes them feel safe.

From seeing that process and thinking that it is really we who save ourselves—that was it, I decided to become a midwife. I now work with an organization called Mim Tsabal Parteras. We have worked in Estoril for three years. We organized to find a place to receive women and give them the attention they wanted. We as midwives are changing. In the past we, waited for the women to come find us. Now we are actively searching for those women who cannot come to town, who cannot seek us out, who do not have the same access. We go and look for them. Now they know that we’re going to visit, so the women have started formally waiting for us. But at the end of the day, I feel like it’s a quest. Especially when COVID-19 started and the public transport no longer went to the communities.

We started looking among ourselves to gather money to travel to the communities and bring groceries because we also had to bring food to pregnant women. We were carrying groceries for four months in a row. I do not know how we did it, but we had to—otherwise, what could we say to a pregnant woman without food about caring for herself? Thank God there was a way for us to seek help eventually from collection centers. On top of these challenges in helping women, midwives at that time were forgotten. We were everywhere—many of us were in Oaxaca, Chiapas, Veracruz, Chihuahua—but nobody could see us; we didn’t have equipment or any facemasks or PPE or anything.

I want the freedom to be able to work and be respected for my experience as a midwife. I can help a woman deliver safely in a place of her choosing and ensure that her newborn can still receive a birth certificate—despite her not delivering in a facility. I want the freedom to care for a woman and not be threatened with jail. I don’t need the approval of a local health authority because I have the trust of my community and for me that’s enough. But to be able to practice midwifery without fear, without fear of being singled out or put in jail—it would totally change our realities as midwives. Women would also feel safer in seeking us out for their home births and in having a fully free choice in the type of birth they want. So, it’s that freedom for us that would really be freedom for everyone. I want midwives to not be afraid to reclaim what is ours. Do not be afraid to accompany a woman. Let us remember that what we know or what we do, that we bring it from many centuries ago. Which is a right we have.

And I’m not just talking about the midwives, I’m talking about all the women and families. We have a right. We have the power to decide about our body. Because at the end of the day, it’s our duty, it’s a service to the community. My message is of respect, choice, strength, empowerment for women. We are free. We were born in this Mexico, where there are still certain freedoms. When those freedoms are not acknowledged, we must speak up. Because if we don’t speak up, they won’t ask, and they won’t listen.

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