The new NICE guideline recommending home birth/birth Centers for women who have already had one baby ‘successfully’, reminds me of an old consultant obstetrician friend of mine who still insists that birth is only safe in retrospect.
Leaving aside some of the annoying issues relating to risk and first time
mothers raised by the guideline I’d like to remind you of two woman focused documents we have seen in the past.
Changing Childbirth’ (1994) was a woman centred report recommending one to one known midwife care, it wasn’t really implemented nation wide, Why not?
The Winterton Report pre-dated changing childbirth, again pointing to the ‘evidence’ supporting midwifery led care, we got excited about it.
Did it lead to wide spread change to pregnant woman’s experience of birth? No. Why?
An even earlier publication, The Peel Report published in 1971 recommended, I kid you not, 100% ‘hospital confinement’, meaning that all women should give birth in hospital. Was it successful? Yes. Why?
The Peel Report was successful because Doctors ran the show back then, and to a large extent they still do.
Will this new recommendation of a safe place of birth lead to a ground swell of home birth through out the country? I’m not holding my breath.
Doctors, with their ‘pathological frames of reference’ are still in charge of the institutions that shape the birth culture in the UK.
Education and birth politics are similar. Teachers have a vested interest in us believing we need them to educate our children and obstetricians are the same.
Top down change of birth ‘politics’ hasn’t worked and probably won’t ever work. What will, is there any hope for a woman centred maternity service?
Our hope rests with awakened pregnant women who will challenge and transform political birth structures, it won’t be midwives, doulas or other birth professionals.
Pregnant women have resident power for giving birth. Obstetric/political structures want women blinded to their own internal brilliance.
A midwife’s role is to point in the direction of a pregnant woman’s inner power.
Even the phrase ’empowering women’ is pointing in the wrong direction. It suggests an outside-in source of the ‘Power’, she already has all the power she needs.
What’s required if our maternity services are to truly serve birthing woman and their emerging families?
A return to the ‘old paths’, care and support led by Wise Women being with women as they give birth, unfettered by the masculine energy driven regulations, free from the medical power hoarders.
There is hope, life always finds away.