Saturday, September 18, 2010

RCM Campaign for normal birth

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM), the professional body for midwives in the United Kingdom, has a Campaign for normal birth.

The protection of normal birth will, without doubt, save lives of mothers and babies and reduce morbidity in both developed and developing countries.

The promotion of normal birth is a message that must be a top priority for all midwives and other maternity care providers in an age that embraces gadgets, quick fixes and technology, and ignores the sensitive intuitive processes that are essential to human life.

The support of normal birth is contingent on the undeniable fact that the safest and most wonderous way for a baby to be brought into this world is, in most cases, in harmony with natural physiological processes.

The midwife holds the key to protecting, promoting, and supporting normal birth. The midwife has the skill and duty to be 'with woman' as the first level (primary) care provider, and to engage and work with other specialist providers when and if the individual woman or her baby need specialist intervention.

It seems to me that 'normal birth' is perceived to be the default position in midwifery care: if there are no complications, 'normal birth' will ensue. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

Having practised independently for the last 15+ years, I have learnt, mainly through refelctive learning, that the practice of promoting, protecting and supporting normal birth is in fact the most demanding, engaging professional challenge that I have ever known.

Here is an example of the very useful links featured at the Campaign for normal birth site:
Latest news
* Cathy Warwick comments on the Lancet editorial which criticises homebirth and midwife-led care
* Promoting normal birth key to cost savings
* Midwifery Care and Normal Birth - Recent Policy statement by Canadian Association of Midwives
* Specialist preparation pre-pregnancy produces no measurable outcome benefits
* Giving birth at home is as safe as doing so in hospital with a midwife

Readers of this and related blogs will be aware of the enormous threats that are at present being experienced by midwives who practise privately in Australia.  Government 'reform' of maternity services threatens to restrict midwifery with excessive bureaucracy and rules that ignore women's basic human rights and autonomy in choosing their care provider and place of birth.  Rather than focusing on the dog's breakfast of 'guidelines', 'frameworks' and regulations, I call on all midwives to shift our focus to a campaign for normal birth.

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