In Sao Paulo, on August 28, the Coletivo Feminista Sexualidade e Saúde organised in collaboration with members of REHUNO – Humanist Network for Health News the debate: “Humanising arrivals and departures: legal, emotional and psychological aspects of birth and death”.
The event counted with the participation of several health professionals (doctors, midwives, psychologists, palliative care companions) as well as a public interested in better understanding birth and death.
Flavia Estevan, midwife and acupuncturist in the Feminist Collective and in Humanised Childbirth Teams, Victor Piccininni, author of the book The Art of Accompanying, tools and practices for personal and spiritual accompaniment in palliative care and Leticia Vella, lawyer of the Feminist Collective Sexuality and Health.
The meeting was experienced as an opportunity to pause in lives and reflect on the essentials of existence: life and death. Each of the speakers presented their vision based on daily experience of the various aspects of birth, death and related legal issues.
Flavia Estevan offered a reflection on birth and the time that this process can take. Indicating that this time is variable in each case. She emphasised the fact that childbirth is an act in which there are two beings involved: the mother and the baby, and therefore requires the synchrony of both. She warned that it is not humanising to accelerate times for reasons external to childbirth itself and recommended “focusing attention on the person and leaving the clock in the background.”
Victor Piccininni commented on the need to understand the process of dying as a change in the condition of existence and that, if this fact is given an evolutionary meaning, it can give life a new meaning. This essential transformation can be lived with emotional openness and affection, he added, helping the person who goes on this liberating path and with a profound reconciliation. He offered the study and practice of the tools contained in his book “The Art of Accompanying”, which is intended for both ordinary people and health professionals in palliative care. Victor also leaves us his testimony about what he experienced in the act: “I appreciate the invitation to participate in the debate. It was very enriching. I believe that in such difficult social moments where in many situations we observe that violence and cruelty reign, the task of setting ourselves to reflect personally and collectively on the mysterious moments of birth and death helps us to re-signify the true meaning of life, allows us a contact with the depths of others and of ourselves, and can help us to build a more caring and humane society.
Leticia Vella, presented legal tools designed so that the person can express their wishes about what they want and do not want to be done in childbirth and at the end of life. The legal instrument for childbirth is called the birth plan, where the woman reflects with her relatives on the procedures she wants and prefers to avoid. “In hospitals there is still a lot of resistance from the medical team to admit this type of decisions, and we can think of a gender bias, where historically women have not been able to decide about their bodies,” commented Letícia. Not so much in the case of the Vital Testimony, a legal instrument for death, which despite the fact that in Brazil an attempt has been made to prohibit it by means of a public civil action of the Public Ministry, is still in force today and is increasingly better accepted by the medical teams.