Sunday, May 22, 2011

Midwives shine a soft light on culture of fear

Sydney Morning Herald writes about birthing culture in Australia.
HOT showers, soft lighting, ambient music and hospital staff dressed in casual clothing could be part of the maternity ward of the future, as midwives look for ways to remove the culture of fear surrounding birth.

An education program initiated by midwives called The Creative Push hopes to reduce caesarean rates, which account for nearly one in three births in NSW.

The Creative Push workshop, to be run at the national Australian College of Midwives conference in Sydney in September, is inspired by the successful British Campaign for Normal Birth, which focuses on making intervention and caesarean an option rather than the norm.
''Birth has become such a feared medicalised process,'' Midwives Australia president Liz Wilkes said. ''Anyone having birth outside the controlled epidural model is seen as a bit weird.''
Mrs Wilkes said an expectation that medicine could fix anything, coupled with women's desires to minimise pain and control their birth experience, had contributed to the increase in caesareans: ''I'm certainly not into trying to force women into a paddock to bite on a stick. It's not about caesareans versus normal births.
''I want empowered women who can make an informed choice.''
Clare Colman had to ''fight every step of the way'' in hospital to give birth naturally to her fourth child, Genevieve, after her first three were born by caesarean.
Considered high risk because of her history of caesareans, Mrs Colman, 42, said hospital staff made her feel she was not a ''good'' patient because she refused to have a tube inserted in her arm or be confined to bed and hooked up to a monitor.
It was only with the support of her obstetrician and midwife and her own determination that she was able to have the intervention-free birth she wanted. ''It was the most empowering thing I've ever done. I thought, 'This is what birth is meant to be,''' she said.
Mrs Colman gave birth to her fifth child, a 3.5-kilogram boy named Daniel, after a six-hour labour last month.

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