Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Hospitals in WA not accepting Women who are choosing Homebirth with a private midwife:

The 2010 Maternity reforms are still not working.....Access for Private Midwives was to be achieved within the first year….Still not achieved…I wonder why it takes Australia so long to instigate credentialled private midwives. Surely it can't be that hard to set this up...after all Visiting Medical Officers (VMO's) have a system already....why not just emulate that one? It seems that procrastination is rife within the Health Dept.….2 and half years and where are we? absolutely nowhere:

As a private midwife I still cannot get access to hospitals… I am playing by the rules and some hospitals refuse point blank to accept a woman who is going to have a homebirth and being cared for by a Private Midwife…The Safety and Quality framework to which I as a private midwife have to abide by as dictated by the regulatory body (NMBA) states that the woman has to have the closest hospital to her (within 30mins) as her back-up hospital…. The Director General of  WA Health  has given a direct instruction to hospitals to allow access for midwives conducting homebirths….are the hospitals abiding by this directive? NO….what happens to these hospitals…..nothing…. What happens to the Midwife when she/he does not follow directives….we get the sack or reported to NMBA… where is the parity…where is the justice? Who is holding these hospitals to be accountable?

So where does this woman and midwife go? Where does the woman give birth? Does the midwife birth her at home with no back up hospital? Because the hospital refuses access the woman is not booked there, if anything was to go wrong we would then have to travel over 45 mins to get to the tertiary hospital. This is a complete farce of a system that is nothing but prejudicial against women’s choice of place of birth and midwives facilitating the woman’s choice. 

Midwives and women need to stand up and be counted…. There is a multitude of evidence to show that low risk homebirth is safe…..  The AMA is propagating fear and control by the constant mantra “We do not believe or support in homebirth”….it is time to fight back……..Midwives are not handmaidens to doctors…..Women have the right to choose and refuse treatment.....and women do have  a right to homebirth with a skilled midwife.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Goodness me I have been so busy with studies and work that I have not had time for my blog. Sorry to all my readers.... for not keeping up with regular posts. I will try to make up for it in the next few weeks. 

Interestingly I have just finished a summer intensive in the Law of Occupational Health and Safety and thought I would share some of the key points I learned.  I have had my head buried in books, study and work that I did not realize there was a big debate regarding changes to our Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Laws in Australia..... shame on me. This has made me think if I didn't know how many other midwives did not know....WA's current legislation is Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 (WA) & OSH Regulations... remember regulations outline how the Act is implemented.

Currently each State and Territory in Australia has their own safety and health laws. They impose broad general duties on key stakeholders such as employers, controllers of workplaces and designers, manufacturers and suppliers of plant to workplaces in relation to ensuring the health, safety and welfare of people.  

As from the 1st January 2012 the Commonwealth, NSW, QLD, ACT and NT have actually passed the new legislation, Victoria, WA, Tasmania and SA will be delayed until sometime in the New Year.

Harmonisation would mean each State and Territory will still have their own safety laws, but they will be based on an agreed model Work Health and Safety Act supported by model Regulations and model Codes of Practice. The new law is called Work Health and Safety (WHS) - WHS laws create obligations on employers to put systems in place to prevent workplace injuries.

Harmonisation also involves a National Compliance and Enforcement Policy, designed to support the consistent application of the laws across Australia by the different state regulators. These laws will only come into play when each state/territory passes them through their own Parliament.

There are several key elements to WHS, they are: duty of care, meaning of worker, cooperate with other business, consult with workers, upstream duties, union right of entry and due diligence.

A key element of the new National Law is the legal term ‘person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU)’. This term is not intended to mean individual persons unless they are operating the business in their own name, for example as a sole trader or a partner. A person who is a director of, or employed by, a company is not a PCBU, the company is. The responsibilities of individuals who are directors or senior managers of companies are covered under the new element of ‘due diligence’. 

Most of the concepts in WHS are not new, they are just reworded and definitions have been redefined; such as workers means more than employees, this is due to work being completed by people who may not be employees. WHS defines worker very broadly to include; employees; contractors; sub-contractors; outworkers; employees of labour hire companies; and volunteers. 
WHS requires persons conducting business or undertaking therefore to as far as is reasonably practicable, ensures the health and safety of workers it engages, or workers whose work activities it influences or directs, while they are at work in that business. Ensuring health and safety is imperative and this is defined as eliminating risks, so far as is reasonably practicable, or if that is not possible, minimising the risks.

“The phrase “reasonably practicable” means something narrower than ‘physically possible’ or ‘feasible’. What is ‘reasonably practicable’ is to be judged on the bases of what was known at the relevant time and to determine what is ‘reasonably practicable it is necessary to balance the likelihood of the risk occurring against the cost, time and trouble necessary to avert that risk (Gaudron J at para 53. Slivak v Lurgi (Australia) Pty Ltd (2001) 205 CLR 304.). 

Alright let me put this in plain language and use water-birth for an example. Under the new laws you are required to exercise due diligence....this means you are required to have updated knowledge of health and safety this instance we are relating it to water-birth - have you considered how you will inflate and deflate the pool? access to power points? How is the woman going to get into the pool? is there a step or stool, is it safe? can she slip? is there a non-slip surface? get the woman out of the water if there was an emergency? what will you do if your pool has a leak? what will happen if the woman faints, hemorrhages etc
Is there a safety culture present? an informed culture? a reporting culture? a just culture (a no blame)? a flexible culture? and lastly a learning culture?

What safety measures have you in place? do you practice safe evacuation? what measures have you in place to protect your back, the clients partners back? 

What is important to remember is that everyone owes everyone a duty of care, as to what is reasonably practicable.

WA has rejected the model WHS Bill, it has highlighted four areas that it did not agree with and consequently would not be adopting as law in this State. However none of the four issues relates directly to safety outcomes within the workplace.

The four issues are penalty levels, union right of entry, Health and safety representatives’ capacity to direct the cessation of work and Reverse onus of proof in discrimination matters. WA agrees in principle that the penalty fees should be increased; however feels that the proposed increase is too high. In terms of workers’ rights to cease working if it is considered too dangerous WA feels that this should remain with the worker and not be delegated to the Health and Safety Representative. Union right of entry is already provided for in WA legislation and to have it in this model would be a duplication of the rules. Lastly WA considers that harmonisation will allow a company to be prosecuted without the opportunity to prove that the company tried to fix the safety issue and also considers this to be contrary to one of the issues that initiated harmonisation.

WA will probably accept the national Model Act with some minor modifications.  

Remember to work safe and always consider is your work environment safe? what can I do to make it safer? Watch out for when these laws come into place and make sure you are aware of the changes and how it will affect your work practice.

                   WHS At a Glance: New National  WHS Laws
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Monday, November 12, 2012

The ACM's draft Water immersion for labour and or birth

Well it has been a while since I have written, and this is due to being very busy with four units of study, work and family life.
I am looking forward to the semester finishing so that I can have some free time to blog, play and have some fun...... However I have taken some time out of my study plan today to write this blog, as I am very frustrated about this issue.

Firstly yes I think water is a fantastic source for women to use for pain relief, and if I had my time over again I would have a water-birth - so I am no opposed to this concept, in fact I am highly supportive of it. But equally so I think it is important to maintain a safe environment for both mother and fetus (baby).

Please have a look at this draft position statement on the ACM Website: Water immersion in labour and / or birth:

Here are some excerpts:

Position Statement on use of water immersion for labour and birth
"The ACM supports the choice of all women at term to have the opportunity to access water immersion for labour and/or birth."........
 This opening creates a problem for me as not 'all' women are suitable for water immersion - and I think that this statement is a potential problem because it could be seen as encouraging 'all' women even those with a know high risk factor to use water immersion (in the bath/pool) - this in fact could work against the college if there was an adverse outcome.
However equally the problem arises when such tight restrictions (the current policy for water immersion states only low risk women) are placed on women who don't necessarily fall into the 'high' or 'low' risk category......

The other major problem I have is in the achieving best practice.......all maternity services to be encouraged to provide telemetry... for water immersion ( that is CTG monitoring in the bath/pool)
To achieve best practice use of water immersion for labour and birth, it is necessary for:
 all maternity services to be encouraged to provide women with access to water immersion in labour and/or birth including telemetry as required;

My concern with this is two fold, one if a woman needs a CTG (fetal monitoring) then it is considered that she has a risk factor that should not necessarily be in the water - and are we putting her more at risk?
Second issue is that but stating this point even the low risk women might end up having monitoring in the water...will we be opening Pandora's box?

What I really like about the position statement is the following excerpt....because this tells women that they can so 'NO' and have the right to say "NO" to any treatment they do not want.
Informed decision-making, informed consent, and right of refusal are accepted legal principles in Australia. Each and every woman has the right to make informed decisions, including consent or refusal of any aspect of her care. Women must be respected in the choices that they make.
I also think that the College is compromising the position of midwives on this issue, because most state-wide hospital policies all state that 'water immersion for labour/and or birth is recommended for low risk women'.
We have only recently taken the step to have water immersion in labour and/or birth accepted as a part of the childbirth care options.....and some hospitals are still not offering this to 'low risk' women let alone 'all' women.....lets take some baby steps first....otherwise we will lose the lot.....all it will take is one bad outcome and it's gone.........

Take some time out and give some feedback

DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSIONS: 5pm (Canberra time) 21th December 2012: Submissions received after this date will not be considered.
Submissions (and any questions about this consultation process) may be sent by email to:

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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Freedom for Birth - One World Birth

Take some time and have a look at this website:
Take back birth - pregnancy is not a medical condition - question your Medical Practitioner, be empowered take back childbirth:
Make birth better,1000 premiere movie's at one time; Check out where the film is showing in your State /  Country;

For WA see:

Premiere screening of Freedom for Birth
When: September 20th, 7pm
Cost:    $5.00 or donation
Where: Boulevard Centre, 99 The Boulevard (next to Floreat Forum shopping centre)
RSVP: To get an idea of numbers please RSVP on: or call 08 61960463 to guarantee a seat.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Lobbying pays of.......

If you have followed this blog you will know that with the maternity reforms came the Determination, which on the one hand gave midwives access to a Medicare provider number and with the other hand effectively tied both our hands together by demanding that we have a collaborative arrangement with an obstetrician, this seemed an unfair advantage to obstetricians..... Now this might of worked if the obstetricians agreed to collaborative with midwives however this proved difficult for one reason or another and only a hand full of midwives were able to obtain a collaborative arrangement. Midwives wanted collaborative arrangements to be with a Health Service rather than with an individual doctor….. hopefully this system would be a fairer option.
Midwives began to collect data,that is evidence that collaboration was not working. Private midwives have been actively seeking collaboration for two years and there are only a few arrangements within Australia. We began to lobby the government for change…and finally this has happened. There was a round table consultation in July with key maternity stakeholders including the AMA and RANZCOG to discuss indemnity insurance and collaboration or the failure of the Determination in its current format…. hence the announcement after the Health Ministers meeting 10 Aug…..
Professional Indemnity Insurance for Privately Practicing Midwives.
 Ministers agreed to an extension of the professional indemnity insurance exemption for privately practising midwives until June 2015.  This will mean that privately practising midwives will continue to be covered by the national registration and accreditation arrangements. 
The Commonwealth agreed to vary the determination on collaborative arrangements to enable agreements between midwives and hospital and health services.
Ministers agreed that WA would develop a paper on longer term arrangements and that this would be presented at the November meeting of Ministers
comments made in the Canberra times: 
The health ministers also agreed yesterday to change the existing rules which require midwives to work in collaboration with doctors.
They'll now be able to enter agreements with ''hospital and health services'' as well. That move will be welcomed by midwives who have long argued the current determination effectively gave doctors a veto over midwives.
But doctors are outraged, with the Australian Medical Association labeling the decision ''dangerous and unexpected''.
''If the Commonwealth proceeds with today's decision it will be essentially allowing independent practice by a midwife,'' AMA president Steve Hambleton said in a statement.
''When the collaborative care arrangements were being developed it was agreed the midwife could have an agreement with a doctor in a hospital who would ensure appropriate care arrangements were in place.
''This decision is transferring sensitive patient care and management from a doctor to a bureaucrat. It must not proceed.'' AAP
It is not surprising then to see that the AMA is not happy with this outcome…however to say the "decision is dangerous and unexpected"…is unacceptable and scare mongering…..Midwives are heavily regulated through legislation, (AHPRA) Registration, Quality and safety framework, policies, guidelines and Professional Standards….. this is about implementing the maternity reforms, offering women more choice and allowing midwives to practice as autonomous practitioners……midwives are always willing to collaborate..
Private midwives want access to hospitals to enable women continuity of midwifery care…. putting women at the centre of their care.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Improve access to maternity care by midwives known to women

A colleague of mine Beth O'Neil started a petition on, the aim of the petition is to get 3000 signatures: what is the petition about? its about Improving access to maternity care by midwives known to women. 

Currently GP's will only refer to obstetricians and midwives are finding it difficult to get a collaborative agreement with obstetricians. What we need is for GP's to start referring pregnant women to midwives who are experts in providing continuity of midwifery care - what is continuity of care - it is the same midwife caring for you throughout your pregnancy, labour, birth and postnatal period.

We need women to be asking their GP to refer them to a midwife for continuity of midwifery care.... take a look at the petition have a read and then sign it..... pass it on to your friends, lets get it moving get the word out Midwives are here to offer you continuity of midwifery care.... shared care with your GP and or Obstetrician... we can all work together to give women what they want.... that is different models of care with informed choice and the same midwife throughout their care......

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Integrity, principles and veracity - Food for thought!

The ups and downs of life, yes we all have them hopefully there are more ups than downs. I have so many blogs to write, this blog is going to be about ethical behavior; integrity, principles and veracity it seems to be foremost in my mind, it is my attempt to be philosophical. It is to get you thinking about the people, jobs, organizations and activities you are involved in..... stop and take a breath, and remember the basic principles of life, integrity and veracity. Abraham Lincoln said "Important principles may, and must, be inflexible"

I have been contemplating veracity, principles and integrity and how is it that people make decisions - I was conducting Health Assessment exams with students as I was intently watching the student go through the process of auscultation (listening) of the heart sounds - aortic area, pulmonic area, ebbs point, tricuspid and mitral (apical).... her actions and explanations were good, then she listened with the stethoscope to detect the different sounds, here the student has to listen with the diaphragm (wide bit) firmly on the chest, then lightly with the bell (with our stethoscopes you have to turn bell around so you can hear. This student listened with both the diaphragm and bell without turning the bell, therefore she would not be able to hear the heart sound. I asked the student to explain what she had just done and could she tell me what the heart rate was using the bell - and she did. I was surprised that the student would lie outright - when I asked her to listen with the bell of the stethoscope and tell me what she heard - her eyes met mine, then her head drop, she held her breath and then said sorry -  it was the moment of realisation - its the oh F___K moment....her eyes dropped, the moment of shame. There was no need for me to say anything.... the student knew the impact and we all felt the disappointment. 

My question is whose principles are correct - I demand from you in the name of your principles the rights which I shall deny to you late in the name of my principles....Walter Lippmann.

So we are all on the same page, I'll start with Integrity - according to it means; adherence to moral and ethical principles, soundness of moral character and honesty. Ralph Waldo Emerson said "A little integrity is better than any career" and Oprah Winfrey said " For me real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody's going to know whether you did it or not".

This then leads nicely on to Principles again states an accepted or professed rule of action or conduct a person of good moral principles. Franklin D Roosevelt said "Rules are not necessarily sacred, principles are".

Finally veracity as per, means conformity to truth or fact, accuracy., such as, honesty, truthfulness, credibility and many more. Thomas Henry Huxley said, “veracity is the heart of morality”. I just love the word veracity..... it's not used much these days.

I wonder how many people get disillusioned with the lack of these very important principles in life? yes we all know the meanings of the profound words and probably all profess to abide by them, but do we truly do that? I challenge you to think about it.... why do people particularly leaders known for integrity and leadership engage in unethical activities?

Is it they think they won't get caught or believe that the elevated status puts them above the law? was this the first time they did something inappropriate, or have they been on the slippery slope for years and no one it as simple as being in a situation where you have to make a choice between what is right and what is easy? remember the famous words from Martin Luther King Jr “The time is always right to do what is right”. 
Sometimes it is just much harder to do what is right, no one knows that better than Toni Hoffman the senior nurse who put her career on the line to expose killer surgeonJayant Patel in one of Australia's worst medical disasters - Queensland Health and the Bligh government had treated her "like a leper" since she blew the whistle.

Another person that springs to mind is Tiger Woods, no one expected his life would unfold to the public and expose such a degree of infidelity "Gone is the mystique that once surrounded him. His aura of invincibility has evaporated, leaving only the very human man where the red-clad, club-twirling superhero used to be".

John Edwards  former Senator of North Carolina  During his presidential run and wife's cancer battle, Edwards had an affair, fathered his mistress’ child, and lied about the mess. Sadly the list is endless.
Do you think it is ever justified to tell a lie? This is a question I always ask my students in my ethical lecture, and as usual its a split class, sometimes I have majority that say its OK to lie and other times the decision is reversed. Most students will agree they should not lie and it is good practice not to lie, but in reality this does not happen, often it has been a split second decision to lie.... and this can be detrimental as the domino effect of the lie takes place together with the inevitable consequences of the lie.. However most students also seem to accept that lying is a fact of life, and that there are many degrees to lying.

This attitude is highlighted in a A study in the Uk that showed  Lying, adultery, drug taking, breaking the speed limit, drink-driving, and handling stolen goods are all seen as more acceptable than they were at the turn of the century. Prof Paul Whitely,..... “It appears Britons are growing more and more tolerant of low level dishonesty and less inclined to sanction activities which would have been heavily frowned on in the past.” 

As a society, if trust is eroded this will lead to economic and social consequences. I think its time to enforce these basic fundamental principles of integrity and veracity as essential elements to maintaining a cohesive society.

"Public confidence in the integrity of the Government is indispensable to faith in democracy and when we lose faith in the system, we have lost faith in everything we fight and spend for".
(Adlai E Jr Stevenson)
Next time you are going to tell a lie, think twice and choose not to lie.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Choices Women Make in Childbirth

This is a short blog about a few conversations with several women regarding the choices they made for the birth of their babies....I was  in a shopping center promoting midwifery and chatted to some pregnant women.....  I’m sharing some of these conversations for two reasons; because the choices these women made blew me away and in light of the vigorous homebirth debates after the release of the SA coroner’s report where he suggested that women who have a high risk factors should possibly consider a caesarean section rather than a homebirth or words to that effect...... (which will be my next blog).

I have to note that the women concerned all had private health insurance and wanted to birth in a private hospital. First two women were 35 and 36 weeks respectively, they were having repeat caesarean sections. When I asked how they felt about their impending c/section Mary said “look I have accepted that is my reality”, I asked was she happy to discuss her decision and she said she was happy to share and talk about it.... she went on to say “my first section was an emergency.... when I was pregnant again we saw the same obstetrician and we were told the risk of the scar tearing was high and its best to have another section. I then said I would get another opinion..... You know, I could not find another obstetrician that serviced the private hospital that would do a VBAC.....and besides my husband did not want to take the risk and I have to consider his wishes,” I asked “did she know the risk was really in 0.04%” and she said “yes, but my husband did not want to take that chance, I wanted to have my baby in a private hospital and did not want to go to a public hospital, so I accepted the second section, now its baby number 3 and that’s the choice I’ve made, it would of been nice to birth normally, but that’s the choice I made, I wanted to have my baby in a private hospital”.

Janie who was her friend had a similar story.... except this was her second section...she also knew about the risks involved regarding a VBAC but really did not mind having a section, again her main reason was she wanted to birth in a private hospital as opposed to a public one....

Sally was an older professional woman, 39yrs old first baby and elected to have a caesarean section, currently she was 34 weeks and was not interested in a vaginal birth, she said ‘I never wanted to give birth naturally, I want to protect my pelvic floor and besides it took me longer to get pregnant than I thought, don’t think I could deal with all that unexpected stuff, now I know the date my baby will be born.....’ her mind was made up – we did go to talk about breast-feeding to which she was not interested in, however we did manage to talk about skin to skin at birth for bonding and the possibility of expressing for the first few weeks and bottle feeding with  breast milk as an option.... I asked had she ever spoken with a midwife, her response was ‘I have private health insurance therefore I have a very good obstetrician.... and he does have a midwife I see from time to time....but he makes all the decisions....”

The last woman was 35 weeks booked for her repeat section at a private hospital – first section was an emergency, no VBAC offered and she elected for a section because her husband is a fly –in-fly-out and she wanted to plan his time off for the birth and this was the easiest way....she also did not want to birth in a public hospital....”on no I only go to private hospitals, that’s why I pay for private health insurance...”
Out of the 10 women I spoke to 5 were having elective sections, 3 were booked in secondary hospitals and another two for private hospitals and hoped for a vaginal birth but all knew about the chance of a caesarean section.... “if all goes well, I will have a vaginal birth..... we have discussed if the need arises we might have a section”.....

I must say the aspect that surprised me most was the desire to birth in a private hospital even if it meant having a c/section as opposed to birthing in a public hospital.....that puts a different perspective on some of the issues.....what is it that the majority of women want and is this the expected norm of place of birth?

Again I come back to the point of education and informed choice..... these women wanted to birth in a private hospital and how that happened did not matter, their main issue was the place of for thought.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Women need midwives and midwives need more autonomy

Firstly I should be studying not writing this blog...... way to procrastinate.....Life has been very busy as usual for me  especially with hubby not being well .. the garden is in disrepair, months of ironing waiting to be done and as for the dusting... forget it.... but life must go on.... most importantly I have to make time for my beautiful grandchildren.....
I have currently just completed a Human Rights assignment and this got me thinking even more about the dilemma in Australia particularly in WA with Medical dominance, the strength and power of the AMA and the deliberate non engagement with private midwives for collaboration. It seems that the obstetricians are happy with the status-quo that is monopolizing childbirth - remembering in WA the uptake of private health insurance is approx 40%, (people think if they have private health insurance they get better care and value for money) and 99% of women want to birth in a hospital. WA has less than 1% of women who are choosing homebirth - with these small numbers and the high uptake of private health insurance, together with the failure of GP's to refer women to midwives, as they only refer to obstetricians..... it seems the only way forward for both women and midwives may be a Human Rights approach.

Continuity of midwifery care is almost absent in WA. The lack of autonomy for midwives whether they work in a hospital or as a private midwife in Australia is shameful. Even worse is the denigration of women's right to choose place of birth no matter what the risk and be afforded the right to have a midwife support that choice is non existent. Clearly the midwife would need some support if it was  'high risk' as this would be outside the scope of practice - this is where a supervision model would be beneficial similar to the UK. But instead women are pushed to the brink and birth alone without a health professional present. The question is who will protect the midwife who chooses to support the woman when she chooses outside of the recommended boundaries? Next question is who protects the fetus when things go wrong.... yes I know the fetus has no rights until born alive, but this rule is being challenged each time there is an adverse outcome.... watch this space.... This brings me to the first ever Human Rights in Childbirth Conference being held in the I write this blog....I have paid to be part of the webinar but alas it is not working.... will have to do a blog on it when I finally get to listen to it. This conference is going to debate and discuss all the issues surrounding place of birth, maternal fetal conflicts and rights - how fascinating... I truly wished I could attend.

As I have stated before there is no legislation in Australia that will protect the midwife if she chooses to support the 'high risk' woman at home. The midwife would more than likely be reported under the current Health Practitioners Regulation National Law Act 2010, be disciplined, which could mean a fine, restrictions on his/her practice or de-registered.

I am hoping that out of the Hague conference will come some true discussion from the lawyers, midwives, academics, doulas and who ever else is contributing to the conference about the maternal / fetal debate and the right of women to choose where and how they want to birth - and what happens in the countries where true choice is not valued. Here's hoping..........................

Monday, May 7, 2012

Virtual IMD reflection

Virtual IDM reflection: this was taken from listening to Dr Amali Lokugamage present, it was an excellent presentation, food for thought. This is my understanding of the presentation.
Also a big thank you to Sarah Stewart who organised the Virtual International Day of the Midwife a wonderful event. If you want to listen to Dr Lokugamage presentation just follow this link.

(Ref pic:

Dr Amali Lokugamage “Why doctors fear homebirth”
Amali started by sharing she had a homebirth – an obstetrician who has had a homebirth – this was fantastic news, it was so inspirational to hear her talk about her experiences and try to explain the position of the obstetrician. Not that I never considered the position of an obstetrician before, but Amali made it so clear for me. She went on to say that prior to her own homebirth she did not understand why anyone would have a homebirth. She describes her homebirth as a profound experience so empowering. Which led her to write the article “Why doctors fear homebirth”. Amali described that her pregnancy changed her views, she had an intuitive connection with her son, she talked about her connection...this led her to writing her book “ The heart in the Womb”. ...which I must order.....She contributed her fear of childbirth to her lack of knowledge in this area, and her medical education, lack of knowledge leads to mass cultural blindness on normal birth and the basics of physiology of birth.
Litigation is on the increase, therefore defensive practice is prevalent – obstetricians fear preventable bad outcomes. Doctors worry, will I survive litigation, they are fearful of it and try to avoid it at all costs, you can understand why they are fearful as this is their lively hood and sustains there family and lifestyle.

Interestingly Brittan does not have an issue with homebirth – as they largely have a public system and homebirth is provided within the healthcare system and provided for in legislation. Where as when you look at countries where health care is privatised, a greater private sector, she talks about a war on money – how true is this; I firmly believe part of our problem in Australia is that a large percentage of women have private health insurance, and GP’s refer directly to obstetricians, they do not offer midwifery led models of care...and often women think having obstetric care equates to high quality care.....

Dr Amali made another interesting point about the politics of homebirth by looking at how the Obstetric Colleges support or do not support homebirth – the only one I know off that supports homebirth and works together with midwives is the UK RCOG. (RCOG v AMA, ACOG) this might reflect the culture of the country. She went on to say Doctors want to fix, solve, not considering autonomy, because it’s about fixing the problem for what they perceive as the best. They are taught the importance of Maternal Mortality – 358,00 women die in childbirth each year – mostly in developing countries -, therefore they want to make things better......she also discussed, The three delays model – delays which lead to trouble pregnancy complications, delay transport, receiving g adequate care one transferred (“The “three delays” as a framework for examining maternal mortality in Haiti” Barnes-Josiah D, Myntti C, Augustin A, Soc Sci Med. 1998 Apr:46(8):981-93).

This next point was most revealing was that there was an audit conducted of the Evidence in O&G practice, the audit found only 1/3 of the recommendations put forward by the ACOG was based on good and consistent scientific evidence, that is grade A. This is appalling considering that ACOG is most aggressive about homebirth and women’s right to autonomy. (Obstet Gynecol. 2011 Sep:118(3);505-12. Scientific evidence underlying the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists practice bulletins. Wrigh JD, Pawar, Gonzalez JS, Lewin SN, Burke WM, Simpson LL, Charles AS, D’Alton ME, Herzog TJ.)
Also discussed was Homebirth evidence, we know the – two largest homebirth studies; de Jonge, 2009 low-risk planned home and hospital births – low risk equivalent to birth in hospital. BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, 116, 1177-1184 . Birthplace in England Collaborative Group. 2011. Perinatal and maternal outcomes by planned place of birth...BMJ. 2011 Nov 23;343;d7400; for multiparous women low risk is safe at home. Birth place in England - last study to say it was cheaper to have birth at home – and we all know this... it seems that the evidence is only used to discredit home birth and not when it is showing the benefits.

It was refreshing to hear an Obstetrician talk about - 'Obstetric latrogenesis' (that is problems caused by the hospital / health professional) – increasing - induction, epidurals, surgical delivery, reduces bonding, reduces chances of reducing breast feeding; Normal birth leads to adaptive physiological function in the baby, endocrine, immune system thyroid function, respiration promotes high breast feeding rate, greater bonding.
Clearly you can see – healing is viewed differently between the – midwifery model v medical model. I have heard this argument presented before that, Obstetricians only look at a snap shot of the woman's life – intellectual technical knowledge of birth as opposed to wisdom, feeling of birth. Obstetrics dominated by the left brain as opposed to midwives who use both sides of the brain.
I liked the idea that Amali talked about how oxytocins may affect us – fight and flight, so low oxytocins for obstetricians as opposed to high levels of oxytocins calm, considered composed = midwives; this is a very interesting concept, she also says that it is possible that obstetricians and midwives are physiologically different...certainly food for thought, I liken it to Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus.....

I was  surprised to hear the number of specialist doctors that have had successful homebirth (but I guess they are in the UK) – Dr Amali gave no answers to how to resolve the issues of the power imbalance, she thought that it would be almost impossible to convert them from left brain thinking...."it is difficult", maybe showing more video’s such as orgasmic birth"....

Dr Amali closed with that a possible solution maybe that Birth is a Human Rights issue.. as human rights will over rule obstetricians...maybe this is the way forward.... for me this will be a whole separate blog (as this is not as simple as it sounds and takes a long time) I would like to go through the case of Ternovsky v Hungry, a woman’s right to choose homebirth whether low or high risk ....

At the end of this month there will be a Human Rights conference in the watch this space.
Thank you Dr Amali Lokugamage for an inspiring presentation, I will try to view the 'Obstetrician' from a more left brain angle rather than just being paternalistic and disregarding a woman’s autonomy.

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