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Homebirth advocate calls for a fair go

Justine Caines, Secretary of Homebirth Australia, has sent in the
following critique of recent media coverage about the dangers of homebirth:

“Feminism is a dirty word, especially if you are a pro-establishment
columnist. Last week many media reports questioned the safety of homebirth.

Doctors were outraged at the death of 4 babies, without revealing any case
facts. Many have regarded women as incubators.

Not one mainstream piece has explored why a number of women feel the need to
give birth without any health professional, nor have they explored simple
tested legal concepts of informed consent and right of refusal.

It would seem far more sensible to herd all women into hospitals where they
can be controlled. Women cannot be trusted, especially those who challenge
the fierce medical domination of childbirth.

As an owner of a female body, I have taken it for a test run seven times.  As a healthy woman, I have chosen to use limited medical technologies, and resisted others. I took
ultimate control of my body and became responsible for the life growing
within me.

As a parent I continue to tread that path of rights and responsibilities.

I paid a price, however.  My decision to give birth at home with a
registered midwife was not respected or funded.  At the same time my taxes
paid for a system controlled by medicine. A system with virtually no
accountability, as illustrated by the case involving Dr Graeme
Reeves.

This case was extreme but lower level violence continues in maternity
wards every day. The prominent columnist Miranda Devine mocked this
violence.  How can this be tolerated?

With this environment how could a woman previously damaged by the system
feel safe?

We have a maternity health system that leaves one in 4 women experiencing
birth as a ‘battlefield’ and suffering debilitating post natal depression or
even post-traumatic stress disorder, usually reserved for soldiers and
victims of crime.

Whilst women cry out for a mainstream midwifery option that puts their needs
first, the medical establishment remains largely unaccountable.

Federal Health Minister, Nicola Roxon put her toe in the water, by
announcing a maternity services review. As expected, there were hundreds of
submissons from the women who have been denied their rights and are funding
services for others.

Yet pro-establishment columnists denounce them as a ‘vocal minority’ and
continue to deny them equity.

As a woman and lawyer, Nicola Roxon is well placed to design a maternity
system with the established principles of informed consent and right of
refusal at the centre.

Medical lobby groups use arguments about women’s “safety and wellbeing” in
order to tightly hold power and control. They have no track record of
respecting women’s rights.  Instead they engage in shroud waving and cripple
women with unnecessary fear.

Neither the church nor the state has the right to control a woman’s body.
Maternity reform must be based on the 3 R’s: rights, responsibilities and
respect.

Consumers have the right to a funded registered health professional in any
setting, and the responsibility to demonstrate they have made informed
decisions. They deserve these decisions be respected.

Health professionals have the right to funding and to give clinical advice
based on evidence. They have a responsibility to be satisfied that
consent/refusal was informed. They deserve the respect of the woman as an
educated professional but ultimately this respect must be reciprocated to
provide healthcare according to woman’s intent.”

Related Posts

Comments 5

  1. Venise Alstergren says:

    Why, in the name of god did scientists and inventors labour so hard and so long, with bugger all in the way of renumeration to invent anaesthesia ; one of the main beneficiaries being women undergoing childbirth and doing it in something less than total agony, only to have it all flung back in their, fortunately, no longer existent faces by mindless females who, quiver, quiver, see the whole sordid process as being semi-divine?
    If it was a semi-divine process how come the world’s population at about 6.5billion people arrived at this number so readily?

  2. Decider says:

    why in the name of god you ask. Well, anaesthesia is fine for those who need it due to being in agony, but some people would prefer to use pain relief that doesn’t actually drug the baby. Drugging the baby means they have trouble attaching to the breast in those first vital moments of bonding.

    Feeling safe and supported inhibits adrenaline and lets the endorphins flow. Endorphins are powerful pain relievers that don’t damage the baby. Instead of just jumping straight to the man made drugs some people would try to use nature’s design first. Most women who feel safe and are surrounded by supportive birth attendants and who are able to birth in the way that is their first choice don’t describe giving birth as being in “agony” anyway. These women are usually very happy with their birthing experience, have more success at breastfeeding therefore produce healthier offspring, and have less post natal depression.

    Its not a matter of being semi-divine, its actually what the majority of women actually want for their birth experience. Those who don’t are very well catered for but they are actually the minority.

    If its not hurting anyone, and if its attended by a trained midwife with back up available in the case of transfer being needed, then of course it isn’t hurting anyone, then women’s choices should be respected. Its actually none of anyone elses business, whether they are a scientist or not.

  3. doxie says:

    I think most people see this as dangeres because they don’t understand what a midwife is and what there potential they really have they see them as a glorified attendant to the doctor.
    now I come from a family of medical people grandmother mother all midwife RN and to put it blindly the only reason any of us (the children ) needed to go to the doctor was for broken bones (which there were quite a few) and non over the counter medicine like antibiotics.
    I have complete faith in a midwife assisted birth because most of the births in hospitals never see a doctor

  4. Greg Weeks says:

    Surely all of this is beside the point. This is a debate about insurance, not freedom of choice. As I understand it, there is nothing in the legislation preventing women from giving birth at home or anywhere else. It simply requires that attending midwives have appropriate insurance coverage. That this is offered to midwives operating in the controlled confines of a hospital is readily understandable. That insurance companies baulk at providing this coverage at the same rate to midwives attending home births – inherently uncontrolled situations – is, I submit with respect, equally understandable. This does not prevent people who want their children born at home from obtaining that outcome, it simply means that it is a choice that comes at a greater cost.
    Far from opposing midwives assisting in childbirth, my reading of this legislation is that it gives them overwhelming support. This is to be applauded. Both of my children were born (in hospital) with midwives but not doctors attending. The midwives in each case did sterling work. For reasons beyond this debate, my wife and I were nonetheless very glad to be in a hospital on each occasion.
    I suspect that much of the debate (not necessarily the comments above) on this issue is somewhat uninformed, some to the point of hysteria. The simple facts are that it makes sense to have midwives attend births where specialist medical assistance (ie from doctors) is not required but that if they are to do so, they should have insurance coverage as other professionals are required to do. The availability of insurance, or lack thereof, for certain situations is a fact of life – but hardly the fault of Nicola Roxon.

  5. Zippy says:

    It is interesting to look at the UK experience of mid-wife lead home births.

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