Friday, July 17, 2009

labour IS a right of passage

At a time when every spare moment has been put to preparing submissions and impact statements in an effort to prevent disastrous legislation from being enacted federally, I have noticed a couple of media comments on the statement by Dr Dennis Walsh, a MAN, and a midwife academic, who says that “labour agony is a ‘rite of passage’ and pain relieving epidurals weaken the mother’s bond with babies”.

I agree.

[I have met Denis. He comes from my home town, Brisbane, not that that makes him right. I really don't get the man midwife thing, but a few men have made midwifery their calling, and a few of them seem to be OK.]

A very useful commentary can be found at a feminist philosophers link, posted by SA midwife Lisa Barrett.

ps - there are some in every walk of life who are perfectionists, and when reading a statement by midwives about protecting and promoting the physiological, normal processes in birth, and avoiding the surgical and medical alternatives, become defensive because they know someone (or they themselves) did not achieve what they perceive to be the ultimate, perfect birth. Please remember, noone gets it right all the time. Most of us are good enough most of the time. Ponder this, and apply it to decisions in bearing a child, bringing a precious new life into this world.


Lisa Barrett said...

It feels to me at the moment that anything to discredit normal birth to average women, makes them think less about what is really being taken from them in the way of choice\
The thing about informed choice is there has to be really good clear information and then a choice. Even if it is one we ourselves wouldn't want. I am very sad that women in Australia don't seem to understand that everyones rights are being eroded in the new bill.

Joy Johnston said...

Lisa there are a lot of references to rights in this debate. I wonder if you feel that informed choice is 'everyones right'??
I don't.
I would argue that the only real positive right a woman has in childbirth is that natural law right which I have written about in my previous previous blog - ie do it yourself, in harmony with your natural physiological processes, without medical or surgical assistance. That's the midwife's practice area.

The other right which we are supposed to have is informed refusal.
Midwives know that physiological birth can be interrupted and totally messed up if a woman feels unsafe, or is in a 'fight or flight' situation where her adrenaline and other protective hormones override the more subtle oxytocin and natural opiates. So even the situations where a mother has to make informed refusal can interfere to such a degree that her birthing process is put at more risk to her baby and herself than if she was not confronted with such situations. She may end up being discouraged and end up accepting the intervention and all that comes with it after all.

Lisa Barrett said...

Personally I don't feel that a c/s should be a choice so I know what you mean. But that isn't the world we live it. It is the right to chose pain relief and elective section but not to chose homebirth. So I do believe that informed choice is everyones right as the odds are stacked against us.

I think the right of refusal is a farce at the moment. If you are subject to bullying tactics for refusing, what is it anyway?

I am sure that the general public have no idea about any of the ideologies.

Joy Johnston said...

Yeah, but I don't think the genral public are reading this blog either!

Lisa Barrett said...

I think that the college and the AMA are tho.

Joy Johnston said...

Then I'm happy, Lisa.

Many midwives, consumers, and (I suppose) representatives of the medical groups are putting the final touches to our submissions to the Senate Inquiry into Health Legislation Amendment (Midwives and Nurse Practitioners) Bill 2009 and two related Bills - submissions due in by close of business today.

I have had discussions with colleagues in ACM, and in Maternity Coalition. I have recieved 'impact statements' by mail, fax and email - some hand written - which are also for the Senare Inquiry. These have been written by about 30 people in one small Victorian community, who value the option of a private midwfe who is skilled in promoting normal birth.

For too long midwives have been waving the 'informed choice' banner. I now disagree with that strategy.