Please sign my petition and join me in asking our maternity policy makers to put mums and their babies in front of the profits of large healthcare corporations and the obstetric industry. The extremely high intervention rates in Australia of low-risk births as confirmed by a recent study in NSW supports the need for an independent parliamentary review into maternity care policy. Let us ask the Australian Parliament to reverse the over-medicalisation of birth and to protect the choices and human rights of all women in pregnancy, labour and childbirth!
A maternity care model where women are denied their right to privacy, physical autonomy and informed consent and which encourages very high intervention rates in low-risk births of 85% in private and 65% in public maternity hospitals is clearly not reflecting women-centered, safe and high-quality care as the government states on their maternity health website.
Many new mothers are feeling deeply disappointed, cheated and even violated after they have been processed by the “baby production line” in one of Australia's hospital labour wards. Research has concluded that 1.5-9% of those new mums are suffering post-traumatic stress as a direct result of the treatment they received during labour and the birth of their babies.
It is my belief that it is every woman's basic human right to choose where, with whom and how she gives birth!
If we do not speak up now and resign to current government and hospital maternity policy dictating to us how, where and with whom we birth our babies – we, our daughters, granddaughters and generations after them may forever loose our “freedom for birth”.
Re: Human Rights Violations in Australian Maternity Care
To the Hon. Federal Members of The Australian Parliament,
I am writing to you on behalf of all the mothers who have been completely let down by the current maternity system in Australia.
A serious investigation into the ever increasing birth intervention rates of low-risk births at private ( 85% )as well as public (65%) maternity hospitals across Australia needs to be launched.
Many pregnant women like myself in the past are not given the opportunity to give informed consent to medical procedures like induction and augmentation of labour, which once only used as a last resort are now commonly used for the management of over-crowded maternity wards and the busy schedules of specialists. I believe we have reached a dangerous level of ever increasing birth intervention rates in Australia and urgent action is needed to stop this practice from further escalation.
Birth is a very personal and life-changing experience, when women in labour have their control over what is happening to them taken away they often suffer from severe emotional trauma which some of them never fully revocer from.
Good observational studies have provided evidence that high levels of obstetrical interventions where labouring women have their physical autonomy taken away are the main cause of post- traumatic stress disorder following childbirth. It is estimated that up to 9% of new mothers suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, with unofficial numbers likely to exceed those figures.
Current maternity policy in this country which ignores the psychological impact of dis-empowering and negative birth experiences on mothers and their families does clearly not reflect women-centred, high-quality and safe care.
The current fragmented maternity care system in Australia, based on high intervention rates which commonly lead to highly medicalised births not only traumatises many new mothers but also puts unnecessary pressure on our already over-burdened hospital system and each state's and territory's healthcare budget.
It is my belief that a woman's right to choose with whom, where and how she gives birth to her baby is a basic human right and in being denied this choice we are having our human rights violated. The right to our choice of birth is in my opinion equally important as a woman's right to vote. In my view it is a government's responsibility to uphold equality and human rights for all.
What we need is access for all pregnant women to a model of women-centred continuity of care and more birth centres led by midwives who are trained in assisting with the normal physiological birth process. All pregnant women who want a midwife as their primarycare provider should have access to midwifery care and should have access to the same level of government funding whether they are choosing a hospital or home birth and whether their pregnancy is considered low-rsk or high-risk.
Ina May Gaskin, a famous midwife and birth rights advocate in the USA once said :”We are the only species of mammal who mistreats its mothers in childbirth”.
I am asking the Australian Parliament to consider this statement in a bid to change our current maternity care policy with the aim to create a model of care where every labouring woman’s choice of birth is paramount and where she is treated with the dignity and respect she deserves.
If our neighbours in New Zealand and other countries in Europe were able to create such a model of care to the satisfaction of all stakeholders then I believe we can and must do the same here!
This current maternity care system is not good for mums or babies and is in need of urgent reform!
Dahlen HG, et al., Rates of obstetric intervention among low-risk women giving birth in private and public hospitals in NSW: a population-based descriptive study. BMJ Open, 2012. 2:e001723
Beck C.T, et al., Post-traumatic Stress Disorder in New Mothers: Results from a Two-Stage U.S. National Survey. Birth, 2011. 38(3): p. 216-227.