Reports this week of the death during childbirth of the baby of a leading home birth advocate at her inner-western Sydney home come just as the Government is considering a review of maternity services ... The most ardent of lobby groups is Joyous Birth, whose convener, Janet Fraser, 40, tragically lost her baby after several days of labour at her Croydon Park home, which ended on March 27, when an ambulance was called. The NSW Coroner's Office yesterday confirmed it had received a report of the baby's death.
... as one of the most extreme proponents of home births, Joyous Birth has been influential in persuading pregnant women to shun medical intervention in childbirth. It describes as "birth rape" doctor intervention that saves the lives of mothers and babies ...
Birthrape is not simply medical intervention: it is intervention that has not been consented to. You know, episiotomies that are performed without permission, vaginal examinations without permission - that sort of thing. Just as you would not accept these actions from a stranger if you walked down the street, so you do not need to accept this from care providers in labour. So you can understand:
Despite the disasters, Joyous Birth continues to promote 2009 as "Birth Trauma Awareness" year, urging members to write ... "Birth rape on demand, a surgeon's right to choose"; "Did your rapist wear a mask and gown? Mine did"; "Episiotomy is genital mutilation"; "Fingers, forceps, hands, ventouse, baby - which one belongs in a vagina?"; "My body, my birth, my choice".
Women seduced by the "empowering" idea that only a woman knows how to deliver her child forget, as Pesce said yesterday, that "100 years ago ... women died from complications of childbirth, and [so did] babies".
The cases [stillbirths] are mainly from the Blue Mountains area, and two stillbirths occurred at the hands of "doulas" - women paid to help women give birth, often former midwives.
Doulas are mostly not former midwives. They are birth support people who have usually done a short course in birth support. But they are not former midwives!
Again, it is very important to distinguish freebirths - birth at home that is not assisted by a midwife - from midwife-assisted homebirth. The latter has deen demonstrated to be safe, for low-risk, healthy women. The former - there is no research to suggest it is safe, nor would it be ethical to do such research. So we will never know.
A midwife is a professional. When you have a midwife at your birth, you're employing their knowledge, skill, judgment and experience. This is not present in a freebirth. It's very easy to read a lot and think you know a lot. How does a a labouring couple accurately assess the situation when their experience might be less than 5 or 10 births, one of thich is their own? Midwives study for 3 years and attend many many births - complicated and normal. And their education needs to be this way: most complications are not common, so you need to see many births to come across those complications.
Having a midwife at your home birth who has the experience to resolve a shoulder dystocia, safely administer an injection of syntocinon, resus a baby and so on, is essential for a healthy outcome. I believe midwives have a vital role in all births.