Place of Birth not a Choice anymore?

Below is the AIMS response to the shocking statements made midwives and barristers at the RCM conference regarding women’s right to choose where they give birth.

AIMS response:

“At the Royal College of Midwives Annual Legal conference midwives were told ‘that women can’t insist on a home birth if the NHS doesn’t have the capacity to provide it’ (Barbara Hewson, a leading barrister) and that ‘A woman’s right to choose must be constrained by the art of the possible,’ (Lorna Muirhead, past President of the RCM).

The following is AIMS response:

‘Choice not an option for some’

If the argument is that ‘Choice of birth is not an option for some’ then perhaps we should be arguing that choice of hospital birth is not an option for fit and healthy women who want to be delivered in an expensive obstetric bed.  The research is quite clear.  Obstetric units are less safe for low risk women and babies.  The women run an increased risk of avoidable interventions and surgery and the babies are, for example, more likely to be exposed to drugs that seriously affect their ability to breastfeed .  Sadly, comparative studies of home/hospital outcomes do not include mental health; if they did, we suspect the advantages of home would be even greater.

While the law in this country restricts supervision of birth to midwives or doctors there has to be, therefore, a balancing responsibility of the profession to provide a midwife when asked.  If the profession wishes to change this law by giving itself the right to refuse attendance then it should be open to anyone to provide midwifery services at the birth – roll on lay midwifery; the alternative is abandoning women who birth at home to birth alone without any professional attendant.

It is irresponsible to suggest that hospitals should be able to withdraw home birth provision, it puts women at risk unnecessarily.

Furthermore, Laura Muirhead also reveals her lack of understanding of normal birth.  ‘Students are only exposed to normality. When qualified and they need to interpret CTGs or cope with a PPH, they can’t.’ Students are not ‘only exposed to normality’ indeed, they rarely see it.  What they see is a continuous stream of women subjected to a wide variety of interventions that pervert the normal progression of labour and it is no wonder that 30% of them end up with a caesarean section.  Suggesting that ‘if continuous monitoring is right for a woman, then we can’t give her the choice not to have it’ reveals Lorna Muirhead’s worrying and erroneous assumption that interventions can be imposed on women .  To do so is an assault, and it is illegal see
Beverley A Lawrence Beech

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