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UK Midwives Claim Gov’t Prejudice Against Home Births

December 29, 2010

The National Health Service (NHS), the UK’s publicly funded health care system, is attempting to scare women into believing that home-based childbirth is unsafe, officials from the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) are claiming.

“We feel that there is a concerted and calculated backlash by sectors of the establishment against homebirth and midwife-led care,” RCM General Secretary Cathy Warwick said on Wednesday, according to BBC News Health Correspondent Jane Dreaper.

“We are not sure what the coalition Government’s position is on home birth–or whether they are honoring their pre-election promises for adequately staffed maternity services for 3,000 more midwives.

“We want to make sure that all women know that the choice of a home birth is available to them,” she added.

“To begin providing more home births, there needs to be a seismic shift in the way maternity services are organized”¦ The NHS is simply not prepared to meet the potential demand for home births because we are still embedded in a medicalized culture.”

According to Peter Walker of the Guardian, Warwick believes that the NHS is embarking on a “calculated campaign” against home births, trying to convince women that doing so is unsafe and could possibly harm their newborn child.

“Researchers from across the world, who seem to be collaborating with the media “¦ publishing studies which suggest home birth is not safe and give the impression that hospital birth, on the other hand, is completely safe,” Warwick said on the BBC Radio 4 program Today, according to Walker.

She claims that hospital birth proponents are making inaccurate comparisons to other nations, when “that home birth in the UK is a very different concept to a country like America… Midwives in the UK are highly trained, highly competent and very able to relate to obstetricians.”

According to the official RCM website, they are “the voice of midwifery” and “the UK’s only trade union, professional organization led by midwives for midwives.”

“The RCM represents the interests of midwives in all four UK countries individually and collectively.  We promote excellence, innovation and leadership in the care of childbearing women, the newborn and their families, nationally and internationally,” they added. “Our mission is to enhance the confidence, professional practice and influence of midwives for the benefit of child-bearing women and their families”¦ Our values are to operate with integrity, to act in open and transparent ways, to be accessible to members and to support equity in service.”

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