Guest post by Chloe Manchester
This will be my first year celebrating Mother’s Day as a mom myself.
What a transformative feeling that is. In February, on a snowy morning in Portland, Maine, my husband and I welcomed our son Aedan into the world. My son’s birth was not what we had prepared for – in both beautiful and amazing ways, but also in ways that make me so grateful for the care that both he and I received. I witnessed first-hand the life-saving importance of timely, high-quality maternal health care, to which so many women around the world are not fortunate enough to have access.
But the life-saving services I received did not begin only when we entered the hospital, or when we were advised that a Caesarean section would be necessary to avoid potentially devastating outcomes, or during my long recovery in the hands of well-trained nurses and obstetricians. It started with family planning – a critical part of the maternal health continuum of care.
I believe that access to family planning services is a right. Not a privilege. Not a luxury.
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) uses a phrase that really resonates with me – that motherhood should be by choice, not by chance. I was fortunate enough to have the resources, education and personal agency to be able to choose when to have a child. Being able to plan when we were going to have a child meant that I could finish graduate school, take the time to find a secure job with medical benefits, take a break from marathon training (yes – that’s important too!), feel emotionally prepared and set up our home. Every family deserves that choice, whether their plan involves children or not.
This Mother’s Day, let us not take for granted how powerful all women are. Together, let us celebrate women all over the world who overcome insurmountable odds to pursue their ambitions, whatever shape and form those may take. An unwanted pregnancy should never have to be an obstacle in a woman’s life, and it should never, ever be a death sentence.
Chloe Manchester is a Kupona Foundation Advisory Board member. Chloe’s family, together with CCBRT and Kupona Foundation, and through the support of loved ones from all over the world, established the Tim’s Corner family planning clinic in 2013, to honor the legacy of Chloe’s late father and family planning champion, Tim Manchester.
Learn more about CCBRT’s family planning work and Tim’s Corner here; read more about our maternal health work here; and donate to support the sustainability of our work to improve access to sexual, reproductive and maternal health through our website or Crowdrise page.