August 16, 2017
IMUK’s Comments on Recent Guardian and Times Articles
The ill-informed and inflammatory reporting in the Guardian and the Times of the RCM’s decision to change the name of its campaign to the ‘Better Births Campaign’ and subsequent outrageous tweets from the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt risk undermining both women and the vital role of midwives as lead health care professionals supporting them.
These reports and statements characterise midwifery as a cult and the support of physiological/normal birth as a bizarre, somewhat crazed obsession that puts women and babies at risk. Nothing could be further from the truth – in reality, intervention rates have been increasing exponentially. This has had serious impacts for women and babies, with women feeling increasingly disempowered, out of control and subject to interventions that they did not want or necessarily need. Independent Midwives have a long history of working with women who have experienced just such disempowering and traumatic births – advocating for them to have the appropriate care for them and their babies – be that a homebirth, a hospital birth, a birth centre birth or a caesarean section.
That some women and babies need intervention is, and always has been, true – but it is in the best interest of women and babies to avoid unnecessary interventions and to ensure that women are fully informed and remain in control. Most women themselves want to avoid unnecessary intervention. It is precisely the role of the midwife to support women in their choices, to provide the best evidence available, to support the normal physiological process of birth and to be fully alert to any problems that might require intervention.
What “Better Births” showed was that women and their families want care and support that is individualised, to have their wishes understood and respected and, importantly, to know and trust the midwives that will care for them. Evidence shows that this is the best possible way of ensuring safety and well-being for mother and baby. This should be the focus of media coverage – ensuring women get the care they want and need – not vilifying midwives or treating childbirth as some terrifying pathological medical event.
Women have been giving birth for a very long time and, in reality, birth has never been safer. Let’s support the campaign to ensure care is made more truly woman focused. It is ironic that Independent midwifery – which provides the gold standard of one to one care throughout pregnancy, birth and postnatally is now under its greatest threat – perhaps this should be the subject of media copy and Government action?
The ill-informed and inflammatory reporting in the Guardian and the Times of the RCM’s decision to change the name of its campaign to the ‘Better Births Campaign’ and subsequent outrageous tweets from the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt risk undermining both women and the vital role of midwives as lead health care professionals supporting them. These […]