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Changing the Birth Story: What It Means to Me

This blog is all about the birth story, mine in particular, but also recognizing that my birth story might not be the same as others. Recently I discovered an organization, Plan International Canada, who works in close partnership with communities, health facilities and governments to increase both access to and quality of services for women, adolescents and children in places like Bangladesh, Ghana, Haiti, and many more. Their campaign, called Change the Birth Story , is educating Canadians on the barriers to quality healthcare that many women and adolescent girls face, and how we can help remove them.

After having Leo and currently pregnant with baby number two, I’ve definitely had the opportunity to experience what it’s like to go through not one, but two, very different pregnancies. Even though both of my pregnancies have been pretty different as a whole, there is one thing that has stayed the same and that’s the support I have received along the way. Overall, I’d say that my pregnancies and my experience so far being Mom have been nothing short of amazing.

I’m sure many of you mamas out there would agree that we are pretty darn lucky to have the health care system that we do in Canada. We don’t pay a dime in Canada to have a baby, not to mention, there is amazing prenatal care and support at our fingertips. We have access to quality care and pain management … like the epidural, for example.

Thinking back on this, I’m so happy I opted to get an epidural when I was in the hospital with Leo … I typically like to get things done as natural as I can and I honestly didn’t think I was going to need it. However, when they gave me the epidural, they also monitored Leo’s heart and that’s when they found out his heart rate was slowing and quickly discovered that the cord was wrapped around his neck. I often times find myself thinking back on this moment and feeling insanely lucky to have this equipment on hand during scary moments like these and also being surrounded by all of the skilled, knowledgeable Doctors and nurses. That night was scary, but because of the support, it ended in being the most exhilarating lovely, wonderful, night of my life.

Jillian Harris Changing the Birth Story

In addition to the incredible healthcare workers, we also have access to so many books and magazines that help answer those burning questions and provide valuable information.

Then there’s the digital world we live in … I’m honestly so grateful for my followers as I really tend to lean on all of YOU when I’m going through something, I have the ability to post a story on Instagram and ask whether or not something it normal or reach out for advice and the response I get back from all of the mamas out there always amazes me.

I’m also lucky to be surrounded by really incredible people who help with Leo … my family, Justin’s family, our Nanny, Team Jilly, everyone on set … the list goes on!!

Jillian Harris Changing the Birth Story Jillian Harris Changing the Birth Story

But sadly, experiences like mine put me in the minority. I love sharing and speaking about these services, but I can’t help but feel guilty … not all women are privileged to have the same experience. When it comes down to it, I am very grateful to have everything I mentioned above at my fingertips and I strongly believe that every other woman and girl  has the RIGHT to access quality health services as well, which is why I’m partnering up with Plan International Canada.

Complications from pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death for adolescent girls aged 15 to 19 around the world. Under-resourced health facilities, lack of trained health staff, and poor awareness and understanding of sexual and reproductive health issues are all factors that contribute to this shocking statistic. But gender inequality is also a core cause, which results in the and an absence of decision-making power for girls and women. Because of this, women and adolescent girls often face barriers to access life-saving care and information about maternal, newborn and child health. Not only does Plan International help train nurses, midwives, and other health workers in quality prenatal care, delivery, postnatal care and family planning, but they also work with women, men, and adolescent girls and
boys to promote the value of girls and women in their societies and to empower women and girls to lead the work towards gender equality that benefits everyone.

Jillian Harris Changing the Birth Story

It hurts my heart to know that many women and girls don’t have the necessary information and services available to them and that is something we need to work hard to change. This is such a huge and powerful movement to get behind and help show our support so everyone, one day, will have the resources and tools they need to have a healthy happy family because these are the little guys and girls that are going to be running the world one day which is why it’s SO important to provide them with the systems and support they need in order to thrive. We need to work together to help change the birth story.

If you would like to show your support, please sign your name and endorse Plan International Canada’s work by visiting because together we have the power to change things!!



Leave a Reply

  1. God bless you, it’s horrible and sad when you hear of what women go through to have their babies in Ghana (am speaking about Ghana because I was born there but raise in Canada). Women not having a bed to lie on (some sit and sleep on the floor after giving birth), nurses (not all) not being professional talk and treat Mothers/patients anyhow (it doesn’t matter if you are poor or not… it’s different when you go to the private hospital) [as a matter of fact you don’t have to be a mother for them to disrespect you, as long as you’re in the hospital to seek help, they are rude…don’t get me wrong there are good nurses but most often the bad ones over shadow the good ones) just to mention a few because I can go on and on. As a result many lose their lives, Babies die, mix up babies (imagine the infection that is bond to happen in such situations). We are blessed and we sometimes take things for granted here in Canada.

  2. I love your post! Although we don’t pay a dime in Canada for Health Care, 1 in 6 women in Canada struggle with fertility issues. These women do have to pay out of pocket to try to conceive, which can be a very costly and an emotionally draining process. Infertility is actually one of the very few “health conditions” that women face having to weigh what they can afford against their dream of having a little one of their own. There is also a huge lack of low-cost or free counselling support services for both men and women as they move through the infertility spectrum of tests, procedures, etc. Just wanted to add this topic into the conversation! Thanks.

  3. This is a beautiful post, Jillian.
    I was fortunate to travel to Kenya about ten years ago and we visited a maternity ward in one of the hospitals. A mom who had just given birth to her sixth baby was resting in the hallway, with her baby lying beside her on the hospital bed. The windows had no glass and I was so conscious of the flies buzzing in and out of the hospital unchecked. I have never forgotten that moment and was acutely aware of it when I gave birth to my son last year in Ontario, where my birth story was similar to yours (amazing, powerful, reassuring, safe, etc.) Thanks for shining your light on this issue. It’s so easy to be unaware of how fortunate we are in Canada!

  4. Love this blog so much! You’ve inspired me to become more conscious about what I’m using and what happens to it when I’m finished with it! I’ve also been slowly turning my “meat and potatoes” family a little more “plant based” and it’s been successful! ( I made my hubby the ginger “beef” recipe you shared from Erin Ireland and after his second helping I told him there wasn’t actual beef in it – his mind was blown). An easy change I made was no longer buying Saran Wrap! I ordered the abeego wax wrap from amazon and it’s amazing- I feel like it keeps food fresher for longer in comparison to Saran Wrap and I don’t miss the cellophane at all! Anyway I’m not one to comment on blogs or Instagram posts but I just thought I’d drop you a little note to let you know you are making a difference! Keep it up and don’t let the haters get you down you are an inspiration 🙂

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