Episode 08

Better together: why are we still separating newborns from their mothers immediately after childbirth?
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Too often, treating women with respect is seen as a luxury. It is not. Violations of human rights during childbirth are all too common in labor wards, hurting women’s chances of surviving pregnancy and childbirth.

This episode of White Ribbon Alliance’s Brave Voices, Bold Actions podcast explores Article 8 of the Respectful Maternity Care Charter, and the human right to every child has to be with their parents or guardians.

We start with the story of Sabina Jankovičová who suffered through a traumatic separation from her newborn and is now an advocate in Slovakia and beyond for keeping mothers and babies together after birth. Then we chat with the World Health Organization’s Ornella Lincetto, a neonatologist and pediatrician expert in public health, about ensuring health facilities follow evidence-based procedures related to childbirth to help every mother and newborn survive and thrive during COVID-19 and beyond.

Together, we have the power to destroy the structures that harm women during pregnancy and childbirth!

  • How has COVID-19 impacted the way some health systems treat mothers and newborns?
  • Why are babies separated from their parents in health facilities?
  • What are the health benefits of keeping mothers and babies together after birth?
  • Why is it a fundamental human right for newborns to be together with their mothers or other guardians?

Episode Team:

This episode of Brave Voices, Bold Actions was produced by Diana Copeland, Elena Ateva, Stephanie Bowen, Nina Garcia Wright, Kendra Hanna, with support from the entire White Ribbon Alliance team. Special thanks to Zuzana Krišková from Ženské kruhy, Slovakia for helping Sabina Jankovicova share her story with us.


Diana Copeland

Senior Communications Officer

Diana Copeland joined White Ribbon Alliance in 2016 as the Communication Coordinator, working to strengthen and disseminate the organization’s message on its website and social media platforms, and was promoted in 2018 to Senior Communications Officer in order to oversee and grow White Ribbon Alliance’s digital and offline presence.
Rt. Hon Helen Clark

Dr. Ornella Lincetto

Senior Medical Officer, World Health Organization

Ornella Lincetto is a neonatologist and pediatrician expert in public health, working at the World Health Organization’s Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health and Aging, where she is the Senior Medical Officer in newborn health. 


Elena Ateva

Advocacy Manager

Elena Ateva is the Advocacy Manager at White Ribbon Alliance and the Maternal Health lead for the USAID/Health Policy Plus Project. She is responsible for facilitating the work of the Global Respectful Maternity Care Council, leading global advocacy efforts to strengthen the midwifery workforce and providing assistance to WRA National Alliances that campaign to improve reproductive, maternal and newborn health and rights. Elena is an attorney and a human rights advocate who has been involved in the movement for respectful care in her home country, Bulgaria, and throughout Eastern Europe. Prior to joining WRA, Ateva was the Eastern Europe Legal Advocacy Coordinator for the international non-profit Human Rights in Childbirth and later served on the board of the organization. Her work has also focused on prevention of other forms of violence against women, including domestic violence and trafficking in Bulgaria and the United States.


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