Mothers for all Slovenian mothers
People are talking about Association of moms Mamice za mamice more and more. Founders of the association are Spaniard living in Slovenia, Loreto Fernández Rodríguez and Slovenian Nina Grašič. They met in September 2012, when Lore has already lived in Slovenia for over two years and was pregnant with a second child, Nina had a miscarriage not long ago and would get pregnant two months later. They want to provide support and all necessary information on pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding ... to all Slovenian mothers. They speak about both happy and sad moments in their meetings and all family members are welcome to join.
We talked with Loreto Fernández Rodríguez and Nina Grašič, mothers who live for other mothers with all their heart and soul.
Loreto Fernández Rodríguez, you have very interesting experience associated with gynecologists
I had bad experiences with gynecologists in various parts of Spain when I was a teenager and after my surgery of the cervix. I had a feeling I wasn’t being respected as if I’m not the owner of my own body. They were making all the decisions for me, without any consult about the procedures, without giving me the option to choose what I feel is best for me. Then I came to Slovenia, where I didn’t know anyone and I didn’t know the language. Due to my past experience at home, unfamiliarity with the system, and a bad experience with a gynecologist at the health center in Slovenia, I was afraid to give birth in a hospital. I decided then to give birth at home.
My experience was full of respect, peace, comfort, love. People around me listened to me and respected my wishes. It was more difficult after the birth. My child was healthy, but I had difficulty dealing with society, employees in the hospital and pediatrician and especially with the registration of the birth of my child, since I’ve given birth at home. It took me one month to finally register my child. And the mother who has just given birth should not deal with the registration, but would have to take care for her child and herself. This could not and should not be a reason for women not to decide to give birth at home.
This is a matter we have to warn about, we must know about different options which we can choose from. Currently, there is no systematic regulation of giving birth at home in Slovenia. It is not prohibited neither protected. I think women should have legal right to choose. We are adults and able to choose what is best for us and for our children.
With the second child, who was also born at home, everything went smoothly, since they’ve already known us, and we also knew where to go for help.
Nina Grašič, your life was marked by two pregnancies, one sad and one happy.
My first pregnancy was eagerly awaited and I was really happy about it. Unfortunately, I had a spontaneous
abortion in the ninth week, which I was deeply affected by. Every year on the anniversary of the loss I
commemorate the life that was lost too fast.
Since we both lost one child (Lore recently), we decided that we have to talk about this issue in the association.
It is important that women know that they are not alone and that they can turn to us for help. The loss of a child
before birth is considered as something natural, common and unimportant, but through the eyes of the mother is
anything but that. We need to talk about this and we have to say that our loss will still hurt and no one
can replace that child.
Soon after, I got pregnant again and successfully came to a full term. But my birth story was not so pretty. There were some complications and I felt excluded from my own childbirth. This is due to the fact that I was insufficiently informed about the possible complications and about my rights. I allowed being a part of medical procedure instead of listening to myself. My fears have prevented the birth to take place successfully; in addition I had a bad experience with my obstetrician, who made things even worse. He didn’t inform me about the course of childbirth, he was disrespectful and even violent. I didn’t dare to stand up for myself and for my child. But I got over this and my son is healthy. For me, this was the moment that has contributed significantly to really move forward with the association. I wanted women to be informed, that they know their right and that they don’t allow that birth becomes a medical procedure, but a natural and peaceful experience.
How did the idea of association start? How long did it take to finally come to life?
The idea of establishing the association came to mind to Lore a few years ago. The desire grew and developed until she came to live in Slovenia, where she realized that such associations don’t exist in Slovenia but are very successful in her country. She met Nina and soon the idea began to materialize. Because we considered that there is a need to create a network of women who often feel isolated when entering the world of maternity we soon began to talk about the creation of the association. The idea grew for about a year and started to realize after our birth experiences and attitude that we experienced during and after them. But we were also active during our pregnancies; we wrote a proposal of the basic act, the philosophy of the association and talked about what we want to offer and achieve with the association.
Founding Assembly took place on March 8, 2014, which is considered the official date of establishment of the association, formally, we are registered since June 5, 2014.
What exactly association offers to all future mothers and mothers? What kind of information can the prospective parents get?
We believe that every woman has the right to choose and to get respect for her and her baby. There is no one way or one right answer for all women. We should all live in peace, no matter what our life circumstances and personal preferences are.
Women often feel lonely during maternity. We face the pressures of society and health professionals, and association provides a space where we can freely express our opinions, experiences, fears, worries, as well as joy and happiness. We want to offer a place, where women feel at home, where all family is welcome. There are so many needs, which we believe should be implemented and so many taboos, which need to be broken, particularly in breastfeeding and in the loss of a child.
We offer a variety of information to women and families. We talk about the procedures and checks during pregnancy, birth attendants, positions during childbirth, general preparation for childbirth, about the various medicines; how they work and their effects on mother and child, attachment, breastfeeding, different methods of sleep, sexuality and the functioning of hormones during and after pregnancy, and any other topics that are part of maternity.
Where meetings are held and how common are they?
Meetings are held twice a month, every first and third Friday of the month at 5pm at the Hall of Lesce Community Centre, Alpska cesta 58. The first term is reserved for topics that affect prenatal and obstetric period, other for topics of the postpartum period.
Meetings are free for all participants, members and non-members of the association. Partners and children are also welcome.
We also participate in various events such as meetings of non-governmental organizations, etc., where we present the association to visitors, inviting them to join us, and also ask for help, because we are a nonprofit organization funded by donations, voluntary contributions and membership fees.
In your opinion, are Slovenian women informed enough about the possibilities of birth, birth plan, breastfeeding, care of the baby...?
We believe that the awareness of women improves. Women want to be informed, are aware of their rights and what they want for themselves and their children. The situation in the hospitals is also improving and an individual gynecologists, for example encourage women to write a birth plan, because they also want women to be in the hands of their childbirth and not medical personnel, if it is uncomplicated childbirth that is. With the occurrence of medicalised births and procedures used to save lives, it is a trend of returning to natural childbirth. Also, women are increasingly in favor of breastfeeding and expect the society accepts and supports them.
We find that this is mainly due to the bad experience of women, who are 'forced' to start thinking about their responsibilities and rights to change things they can.
Does the voice of your association rapidly spreading?
Not from our view. We are aware that this is a new concept that needs time to be accepted by the environment. The association seeks to gain the trust and respect of the local community and beyond. Since we are located in the Gorenjska region, in a smaller place with less people, it may take a long time, but I believe that things will improve. At the same time the two of us are learning and acquainting ourselves with what we need and how we want to be closer to women. It is right that every step we make, we make with certainty and confidence that we give women the best we can and what is most needed.
For now we spread our voice through the website, Facebook and presentation to the media, but of course we want to reach as many women, especially those who need our help or want to share their experiences.
What is your vision?
We want to improve the situation of future mothers, mothers and women in society, at maternity units and beyond. We also want to help those who do not have access to information or support, so we want to cooperate with safe houses, prison, nurseries and other organizations that are part of women's lives and can significantly affect their situation.
We wish that parts of the association are launched throughout Slovenia for all (future) mothers to feel the support and care we want to offer. We are here for women and we are always available.