By Lilea Propadalo (Edited version published in the Newcastle Herald)
Who would have thought that after all these decades that women would be fighting for essential rights again? I certainly didn’t. We have had a government that has promoted Midwifery care for women and Paid Maternity Leave….it seemed so promising.
Unfortunately, it was all a farce. All it took was a little pressure and lobbying from the AMA and like a house of cards it all came falling down. Women’s rights to choose their carer and to have access to adequate Midwifery care was now the decision of a DOCTOR, not themselves. Legislation is being pushed through that states that Midwives have to be ‘signed off’ by DOCTORS (that may have no experience in birth) to be able to access Indemnity Insurance and therefore practise Midwifery. No Midwife will qualify for Registration unless she has insurance and is ‘under the thumb’ of a doctor.
We may say that it all sounds quite reasonable and that collaborative care would be a win-win situation. Collaborative care would be. Unfortunately, what is being pushed is not collaborative care and instead means that Midwives in Private Practice are answerable to the medical profession and a Doctor will be able to veto a woman’s birth choice.
IT TAKES AWAY THE RIGHTS OF WOMEN TO DETERMINE THEIR OWN HEALTHCARE AND HEALTHCARE PROVIDER.
Opponents to the rights of women have used the emotion of safety and Home birthing to factionalise us as mothers and women.
Let us get this straight right now….THIS IS POLITICAL.
I am one of many mothers that has never home birthed and therefore recognise without bias that this is not just a birth issue. THIS IS A RIGHTS ISSUE.
Over the centuries, political powers have zeroed in on minority groups and withdrawn access to resources, isolated them and then expanded their influence to other groups.
You may think women are not a minority. We are half the population, right?! Yet, women that birth at home have been viewed as a minority. Not many women WANT to birth at home so it is deemed for the betterment of all to deny that right.
Yet, where does it stop? We have one of the highest Caesarean rates in the world and it is a huge expense for our health care system. Will mothers next be told that they cannot access elective Caesareans? What about access to expensive fertility services? Will our right to informed consent as intelligent, voting consumers be made void?
This is not about the safety of birth…. the issues have now gone way beyond the scaremongering campaign of those that oppose Home birth choices for women and their families.
This is about the right of women and their families to access healthcare that suits their personal circumstances. Not all women want to Home birth and not all women want a Caesarean. There are a lot of intelligent, informed women that are somewhere between the two choices that reassess their options based on their pregnancy’s progress.
We all know that Midwifery care has excellent outcomes and continuity of care has been proven through numerous studies to provide outstanding care for women and their babies. Obstetrics also provides outstanding care for those that require more intensive care and monitoring because of their circumstances. Midwives specialise in Normal birth and Obstetrics specialises in Abnormal birth. There will always be a certain overlap of services as each pregnancy and labour is unique, and the support services required.
However, when building a house, we employ multiple tradespeople and they work both independently and in collaboration when required. We have choices and no tradesperson may tell another how to do their work. They each adhere to standards of practice and safety. If circumstances warrant it, we call in engineers. In reality, how is the interrelationship of birthing professionals any different? We are building new life through pregnancy and have professional advice and care of our choice through to birth unless our circumstances require an altered level of care.
You may think it doesn’t affect many people, but what if you want to access an Independent Birthing Centre or have your Midwife assist you at hospital? Were you aware that the cost of Obstetric Care is about to increase as the Medicare rebate has been reduced? What about your children’s rights in the future?
The issue is not whether you choose to have a natural birth, home birth, Caesarean or interventional birth. It is that you have the CHOICE.
Birth is the thin edge of the wedge. Where does it end?
Lilea Propadalo is a mother of three young children, passionate about living in a society respecting of all its citizens and their choices. She has accessed both Midwifery and Obstetric care during pregnancies and has seen the ugly side of the ‘Birth Wars’.