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Archive for the ‘right to safe birth’ Category

Carolyn Hardy, chief executive of UNICEF Australia, in the SMH today:

Some half a million women die in childbirth each year around the world. The deaths are almost entirely contained to poor nations. It is estimated up to 80 per cent of these death are preventable.

Why are we failing? Why are maternal death rates remaining stubbornly high?

A key reason for this is patriarchal. It is the ”dark little secret” of poverty today. We too often ignore the discrimination that goes on in communities directed against girls. It is the equivalent of the glass ceiling in industrialised countries, but in developing countries it is deadly.

Today the face of poverty is a woman or a girl.

They are the least likely to be in school, the most likely to miss out on food or medicine. It’s been tagged the ”Cinderella principle” – the girl in the family only gets to go to school or to get medical treatment after everyone else has been looked after.

I would strongly recommend reading the whole thing.

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Note: Thanks to Lauredhel for encouraging me to write this post; otherwise, it might have slipped through the cracks of “other priorities”.

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For various reasons – mostly because I seem to have a lot of friends who are doctors – I’ve had the opportunity to chat to a number of doctors, nurses and midwives about birth. Particularly topical at the moment is the home birth debate (as I’ve been drafting this post, I see that the government has announced that it will no longer be effectively prohibiting home birth, although it still won’t be supporting it).

All of the doctors with whom I have had the home birth vs hospital birth discussion have expressed a clear preference for hospital birth. This is not because they think hospitals are perfect – most of the doctors I know work in the (public!) hospital system, and are aware of at least some of the failures of that system. Similarly, the nurses and mid-wives that I’ve spoken to who work within the hospital system generally expressed a preference for hospital birth.

The reason for this near-universal preference is, I think, for two main reasons: (1) they spend more time with the births that go wrong (especially the doctors), and those stick in their minds, and (2) they are incredibly risk-averse.*

And fair enough, I say. However, I disagree with their assessment of risk.

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