Friday, October 30, 2009

Due Date: July 2010

A woman who has missed her period this past week will probably be due to give birth in the first week of July 2010, when the new national registration of midwives and other health professionals comes into effect.

What sort of maternity care will be available for this woman, and any others who become pregnant in the coming weeks and months?

There won't be much change to the medical-hospital maternity models that cater for the majority of women. The government's 'reforms' that will provide Medicare rebate on prenatal and postnatal care provided by as yet undefined 'eligible' midwives will not be in effect until at the earliest November 2010.

Only those women who are interested in private midwifery care will have concerns about their choices of carer and place of birth.

We really don't know what sort of maternity care will be possible after 1 July for women who want homebirth with a privately employed midwife. All midwives who are currently on the state and territory registers will automatically be included in the new national register. But the mandating of professional indemnity insurance will make any private midwifery services unlawful, except for the birth, during the exemption period of 2 years. The boundaries and rules around the exemption have yet to be announced.

The overarching principle that must be kept in mind is that birth is not an intervention or a drug, to be manipulated and managed like stock in a grocery store. The significance of birth in each little person's life; to the mother who gives birth; and to the family into which the baby is brought is a profound element in an extremely complex social order. People who are willing to defy ridiculous restrictions in order to promote normal birth, and to protect wellness and wholeness in birthing, will encounter such action because the alternative is simply unacceptable.

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