Monday, September 8, 2008

National Caesarean Awareness Day (NCAD)

"Getting clear about fear"

I attended the NCAD conference yesterday and what a sensational day it was. It never ceases to amaze me the endurance of women. I was fortunate to meet many amazing women but in particular a women who had dreamed of having a vaginal birth, but unfortunately had quite the opposite. Amber shared her journey of first the joy of being pregnant then the horrendous pain of being rail-roaded into a caesarean, not once but twice and why, for the perceived ‘risk’. Amber for her third pregnancy employed an independent midwife to achieve the dream she wanted. ‘
This begs me to ask the question?
Why is our medical system failing these women?
This has been the theme of a few of my recent blogs and I have come to the sad conclusion that Obstetricians have what they perceive as the women’s best interest in mind, historically this comes from the Hippocratic Oath, however, they fail to hear or listen to what women want. They hide behind the fear of litigation and work in a defensive manner (consent forms for vaginal birth, refusal of epidurals etc).This also is a result of a perceived loss of medical power, in times gone by it was always ‘doctor knows best’ however now with ready technology and ‘google’ the consumer, woman is armed with information and therefore asking more questions. We fear risks that are hard to understand: doctors find it hard to understand why women make the choices they do. This then leads to the power struggle and the ‘fear’ tactic to regain the power and so the cycle continues. If the medical model continues to not listen to women, instead of women caving in to the ‘fear’ or the doctors pressure, they will seek help from other sources, be it, independent midwives or freebirth, they will do it alone.

Approximately 77 people attended the conference, what was exciting to see was women breastfeeding their young babies. It was sad to see that there were no Obstetricians at the NCAD conference, last year there were several and it made for good conversation and debate. Why did the doctors not attend? They would benefit from hearing Ambers story!
The word ‘RISK’ is communicated in many different ways and changes the birth plan enormously if communication is not a two way street. Maybe a solution is that we need to start at medical school to change the mindset of doctors, have consumer groups talk to medical students, about listening and informed choice.
Doctors are forgetting that most women are well informed and make choices. Autonomy is the single most denied option given to women who are pregnant. Women have the right to choose the care that they desire, despite the doctor not agreeing with them, as long as the women are fully aware of the implications of their actions. It is important to let go of control, develop a trust relationship and do not manipulate. “Listen more & insist less”.
I have to acknowledge the great presenters of the conference, Amber her story, The VBAC Dilemma: What the Evidence Tells Us - Henci Goer; Risk and Fear: The Best of Friends - Heather Hancock, Birth Beyond Fear - Lorraine Hale, Next Birth after Caesarean - Tracy Martin, Moving on after a challenging Birth - Lynne Staff and Initiating Change in the Operating Theatre – Caroline Dufton & Sara Bayes.

NCAD have achieved many things over the last year, more awareness regarding the rising rate of caesarean sections, the enormous help they provide to traumatised women resulting in caesarean section. Government recognition of the caesarean rate and the need to reduce this rate (through lobbying), advice on the National Maternity Plan, also the assistance with NVBAC (Next Vaginal Birth After Caesarean) clinic at a major tertiary hospital, and too much more to mention here.

This is only the tip of the iceberg; Birthrites do a fantastic job and continue to do so. They are a group of dedicated people who work very hard, a job well done.
If you require any further information regarding Vaginal Birth after Caesarean section: visit Birthrites - Healing After Caesarean Section

The planing committee: Congratulations an Excellent program and day.

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