Issues of Birth Rights

Information to make Informed Maternity Care Choices.

After forty-one years of midwifery practice, the last 8 in New Zealand where many acknowledge that maternity care  is in crisis, I have created a petition that respectfully requests that the New Zealand Ministry of Health:

  • Develops an accessible, practical campaign to promote, support and protect natural or physiological birth throughout New Zealand.
  • Widely publishes data on all New Zealand place of birth outcomes to foster informed maternity choices.
  • Provides dedicated funding to ensure equitable access for well women to local community oriented, physiologically appropriate and culturally sensitive primary birthing units.
  • Publicly promotes, encourages and supports birth at home with experienced midwife for well women.
  • Engages with women, their whanau and national media as well as representatives of all maternity care providers toward achieving the aforementioned goals. 

Background Information.

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Connection is Everything

Growing knowledge and awareness about the physical and emotional implications of the mother-baby connection, and how our actions from conception to early childhood can help or impede this relationship, is resulting in promotion of practices which support this relationship.

In Pregnancy.

Authorities are beginning to acknowledge that parenting begins before birth, and possibly before pregnancy. There is mounting evidence from scientific experiments, and personal stories of children and adults about their experiences before birth, which makes us realise that memory, learning and communication begin in the womb; a long time before we acquire language. Babies in the womb have a fast developing sensory system which allows them to react to individual voices, stories, music, and even simple interaction games with the mother from about the second month (8 weeks) of pregnancy.Therefore the quality of the emotional, as well as the physical uterine environment is affected by the parents, their behaviours and their lives.

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NZ Media and Caesarean Realities.

This Friday 13th (September 2013) saw TVNZ One News coverage of the Women’s Health Research Centres’ report on the rising Caesarean Section (C/S) rates in NZ, ignore and, or misrepresent the following facts;

1)  There was no suggestion let alone reference, or hint by TVNZ of growing international evidence and experiences which show that a surgical delivery has more risks for both mother and baby compared to a vaginal birth, in all the examples to which they referred. However the viewpoints offered by TVNZ about those situations suggest that Caesarean delivery is an equal, acceptable or even better birth option for these mothers and their babies.  Continue reading

Breastfeeding; A vital health foundation ignored!

A program about poor health outcomes of New Zealand children due to poverty, which advocates drinking cow’s milk as healthy nutrition but does not mention breastfeeding, though it claims to make a comparison with child health care in Sweden is hardly a ‘special report, rather it is a selective or ill-informed report.

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Birth, a Human and Political Issue!

The Costs of Maternity Care.
The “Face of Birth” documentary shows that many well educated Australians see home birth as the ‘personal’ choice which has become political. Medical spokesmen who dominate Australian media pronouncing home birth dangerous and not a human rights issue, have thwarted any government initiative to equitably support this womens’ choice. The film explores some stories and the research behind those who are seeking equitable government and community support of home birth rather than maintain unquestioning and monopolistic support for hospital based maternity care in Australia (or elsewhere). Continue reading

Grand Births Designs?

PRESENT REALITIES.
What a contrast of programmes and approaches to similar subjects; David Attenborough’s respectful and hushed tones talking about a tigress’ care for her cubs, followed by a program full of dramatic noises of distressed mothers trying to labour and birth amongst a uniformed crowd of tea cake eating midwives, in a brightly lit hospital.

Labouring in familiar surroundings, is listed as the first advantage of Home Birth on the BirthChoices UK website. This site also says home birth is “your first choice” on their check list for the best outcome for mother and baby even when the woman does not have a known midwife care for her through-out pregnancy and labour (which is the UK norm)!

Meanwhile turning a house into a Grand Design, through planning, researching and great effort as a means to express yourself and make your own ‘nest’, is internationally recognised as a significant achievement. However where is a similar program to encourage individuals to put this much effort into childbirth? Similarly there are copious TV programs and international events which extol mastery in so many areas of life. But programs or events celebrating or acknowledging any woman’s amazing ability to naturally birth a child are non-existent! Where are young couples encouraged to research or question care options as to their health outcomes before starting a family?  How can I get Hugh F-W. to champion home grown and born babies? Continue reading

Informed Consent in New Zealand


Initial audience responses at 2 Auckland screenings of the new documentary ‘Freedom For Birth’ , were thankfulness that the maternity system in New Zealand unlike Hungary, the USA and many other nations, offers a full range of birth options;  a choice of Lead Maternity Carer and support of midwifery autonomy. Or does it?

NZ Care Contrary to NZ Law.
However during the film, some audience members’ heads were nodding in acknowledgement of accounts about fear-mongering and other coercive means to gain women’s consent such as when a health professional stood over an exhausted woman and said a cesarean section was the means to end her turmoil ‘now rather than later’. After the film several women spoke of being separated from their babies for observation ‘just in case’ or  the baby going to another hospital where it was given formula with-out the mother’s consent, here in Aotearoa! But none of these incidents are consistent with the New Zealand legal requirements of the Health and Disabilities Commission’s (HDC) Code Of Consumer Rights which all hospitals need to meet to maintain their Ministry Of Health (MOH) funding. According to the HDC Consumer Rights include; Continue reading

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We need to have their hearts before we can open their minds. — Dr Gordon Neufeld
I can promise you that women working together - linked, informed and educated - can bring peace and prosperity to this forsaken planet. — Isabel Allende
The greatest joy is to become a mother; the second greatest is to be a midwife. — Norwegian proverb
Birth is not only about making babies. Birth is about making mothers – strong, competent, capable mothers who trust themselves and know their inner strength. — Barbara Katz-Rothman
No other natural bodily function is painful and childbirth should not be an exception. — Grantly Dick-Read
A loving heart is the truest wisdom. — Charles Dickens
All change is not growth, as all movement is not forward. — Ellen Glasgow
Trust children. Nothing could be more simple, or more difficult. Difficult because to trust children we must first learn to trust ourselves and most of us were taught as children we could not be trusted. — John Holt
Nothing in life is to be feared it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more so we can fear less. — Marie Curie
Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible. — Frank Zappa