The Herstory of Birth.
Birth Images from Ancient Times is the first of 4 YouTube videos titled the Timeless Way created by Mother’s Advocate, which show images and explain birth practices from as far back as 20,000 years ago. This ‘herstory’ is one of communities knowing that women can give birth, because until the last 100 years or less (especially in rural communities), birth was part of everyday life and birth was women’s domain. Continue reading
Reports about the latest release of the Ministry of Health’s ‘Maternity Clinical Indicators’ suggest that either; reporters and some consumer organisations do not understand the origins and meaning of these ‘indicators’, or they have no concern for the welfare of healthy, first-time mothers and their babies?
The various rates of different childbirth interventions reported last month by the MOH, including Cesarean section rates, are the outcomes ONLY for women who are ‘standard primipara’; that is they are healthy, first-time mothers “aged between 20 and 34 years at the time of birth in a hospital or birthing unit”, whose birth of a single, head first baby at term followed a pregnancy with no “recorded obstetric complications that are indications for specific obstetric intervention.” The healthy circumstances of these women means they are amongst the most likely individuals who should have had a normal or natural labour and birth. Or as this report says, this group should have had “low intervention and complication rates ………… consistent across hospitals”. Continue reading
Even before the fertilised ova, or egg embeds in the womb, there is a division of cells into those which will become baby or placenta. Both placenta and baby need to be healthy, connected and functioning as naturally as possible for the pregnancy to result in the birth of a baby and placenta at about 40 weeks gestation.
Due to its significance for Maori, most New Zealanders have learnt to respect the placenta once it is delivered, still most babies here, as elsewhere, are having their cord cut before its vital work has finished. Yet Maori acknowledge that ‘the place where one’s umbilical cord was severed is ….a place of special importance for each person…………their place of first emergence into the world, of first maturation and foundation.’ This cultural perception is consistent with the physiological reasons why the cord should be left to finish its work. Similarly those who practice Lotus birth or leave the cord and placenta to separate naturally, do it for a variety of reasons which acknowledge the united origin, life and history of baby, cord and placenta. Continue reading
The 2 year UK Place of Birth study showed that for healthy women a planned home birth was most likely to result in a natural birth, compared to labouring in an obstetric or midwifery led (primary) unit. Whereas healthy women labouring in an obstetric maternity unit more often had their labours sped–up (called ‘augmentation of labour’) and needed an epidural for pain relief, both of which contribute to labours ending with either an instrumental or surgical delivery. These findings are the same for birth outcomes in New Zealand  where most women have continuity of care through-out each pregnancy, labour and the first 6 weeks after birth by the same midwife, which is rare in the UK. When NZ women labour in a secondary or tertiary hospital, up to one-third of healthy women may have their babies delivered by either forceps, vacuum or surgery. Where-as those who labour at home in either country, are the women most likely to have a natural vaginal birth compared to those who labour in a midwifery led (primary) birth unit or a hospital. Continue reading
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
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
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
Despite, research from New Zealand, UK and other countries, which shows that for healthy pregnant women homebirth with an experienced midwife, is safer that labouring in an obstetric hospital, an increasing majority of New Zealand women are delivered in a secondary or tertiary hospital (over 85% in 2011).
The Royal College of Midwives Practice Guidelines state that “Hospital is an alienating environment for most women, in which institutionalised routines and lack of privacy can contribute to feelings of loss of control, and increased anxiety brought on through loss of control can interfere with the normal effective physiology of labour” and that “control, or lack of it, was important to the women’s experience of labour and their subsequent emotional well being.”
New Zealand women and many midwives seem unaware that local [1,2, 3] and international  evidence shows that the place of birth not only has an important effect on interventions but that women report higher satisfaction with their experiences in “home‐like” environments, with the following features;
The hormone, or messenger-chemical in our bodies, which is meant to start and continue labour, to birth a baby and placenta is called oxytocin; oxytocin is the hormone of ‘love’, human connection and altruism (‘forgetting oneself’). Oxytocin is needed, and present during love-making and breastfeeding as well as when we hug, touch or share any pleasant activity with another. This hormone, like others is made and released by a deep primitive, unthinking part of our brain, which is also where our breathing, heart-beat and temperature control; all life sustaining efforts of our bodies arise. Continue reading
This week’s “One Born Every Minute” again showed women painfully, agonisingly labouring and birthing on a bed despite using pain relief measures such as gas.
Sadly many were on a bed at the direction or encouragement of a midwife, even after they had tried to get off as their discomfort was directing them to do.
Labouring and birthing on a bed is not how birth is intended or should be. Continue reading