Five things you shouldn’t let the NHS do for your labour…

ImageI was at the wonderful Association of Radical Midwives conference last week, and the gorgeous Virginia Howes talked about the new fly on the wall documentary coming out in January called “Home Delivery”.  It’s a refreshing change from One Born Every Minute.  She showed us some excerpts from One Born. There were gasps of horror and tears in the room from the midwives (honestly!  They don’t usually watch it).  I felt sick, but I wasn’t shocked.  It’s what I see as a doula in some hospital births.  As I wondered why they were so shocked, it dawned on me that they don’t see it!  They are used to working in their own individual way, and don’t see other midwives in action like I do.  They don’t feel the enormous change in the ambience within the room at shift change – for the better or for the worse, depending on the midwives.  I wanted to say “but this is what happens. I see it all the time”.  And I realised that my horror and anger that I feel when I do see these things happen is justified.  I’m not being touchy feely or over sensitive or radical.  It’s not okay.  So, here are the five top things that happen in a lot in hospitals (the last one being on the phone) which conclusive research (and the law in the final one) suggests should not be happening.

Five  things you shouldn’t let the NHS do:

  1. Induce you before 42 weeks on the grounds of being over dates
  2. Tell you to put your chin on your chest and push hard
  3. Cut the cord soon after the baby is born
  4. Get you to lie on your back on a bed
  5. Tell you that you can’t have a home birth on the grounds of staffing shortages

Trust me, NONE of these are evidence based.  They all, in my opinion, contribute to more danger than less. Number one:  The national statistical outcome data suggest babies born after 42 weeks fare better than born between 41 and 42.  Number two: Valsalva pushing compromises the oxygen your baby is getting, exhausts mum, and has not been shown to speed up second stage. Number three: Cutting the cord immediately after birth is plain dangerous, but hospitals in my area are still doing it  (see TICCTOCC). Number four: Lying on your back for labour creates all kinds of problems for your pelvis and baby’s exit. Number five: Being made to have a hospital birth when you wanted a home birth could jeopardise your safety, as recent research suggests that mums are safer at home, and it potentially goes against EU legislation regarding dignity and human rights (see the work of Elizabeth Prochaska, who also gave an inspirational talk).

Okay, so here comes the apologetic sloppy bit.  I know our NHS is wonderful.  I know midwives work hard, tirelessly, compassionately and selflessly.  I know things in the UK are fabulous compared to so many other places in the world.  I love our midwifery in our country.  Maybe that’s why I care enough to get annoyed enough to write this article.  What do you think?

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