Thursday, June 25, 2009

A petition

I wanted to draw your attention to this important petition that I recently signed "Save Private Midwifery and homebirth choices".

I really think this is an important cause, and I'd like to encourage you to add your signature, too. It's free and takes less than a minute of your time.



Why is this so important? I can hear you thinking that
  • you've had your babies so this doesn't affect you
  • or alternately, babies aren't for you
  • people who birth out of hospitals are nuts
  • midwives who work in the community are hippies
  • why on earth would you not want to birth in a hospital?
  • obstetricians are the best
  • there are perfectly free options available
  • why would you want to pay $3k+ for something that you can get through private health insurance?
  • why would you want pain during birth when you can go to hospital and have it "painfree"
  • who cares about women's choices when my sister/next door neighbour/best friend would have died if she'd birthed at home?
I'm not here to debate this with you, except to say that I have different views on all of these things from the mainstream and so do other women, and just as you don't have to agree with abortion, or homosexuality, or voting Liberal, or putting sugar in your coffee, or driving to work rather than catching a bus - you would probably fight tooth and nail for the RIGHT of other people to do these things.

What I am here to say is that women have the right to a birth with an educated attendant. The recent proposed changes to the legislation regarding midwives goes like this:
  • there will be a register of midwives (which is actually a HUGE deal as it is the FIRST TIME EVAH that midwives will NOT be classed as nurses!!! Yay!!! Now take another 20 years to get over people assuming that I'm a nurse)
  • it will be a national register, rather than a state-based one
  • to be on the register, I will need to show that I have insurance that indemnifies my practice
Why is this insane?
  1. How do you propose that I register when I finish my degree? If by registering I am saying that I have insurance, then how do I get a job that requires me to be registered or be eligible to be registered in order to apply? It's a chicken-and-egg problem - I need a job to show that I have insurance, but I'd need the job and insurance to get registered. This is not the situation at the moment. And makes it insane if I chose to do something like an Honours year, or take a year off.
  2. How do you propose that I register if *gasp* I don't WORK as a midwife, for an employer? What if I'm also a nurse and I'm working in sexual health or an abortion clinic, as a NURSE, and there is no way in hell my employer indemnifies me to practice as a midwife? Even though I am staying in touch with my midwifery skills through my job (there is a gap between the absolute letter of a position's description and the reality), I am not able to register as a midwife.
  3. Alternately - what if I don't work for an employer? What if I am an independent practitioner? I am unable to get insurance, through no fault of my own, as there is no insurance option available. Ergo I won't be able to register, or work as a midwife as it's a controlled term and without registration I can't call myself a Midwife.
  4. The insurance will not cover out of hospital services.
What does this mean?
  • That I am wasting my time studying for a degree that I won't be able to use because I do not want to get a job just to register. I will get a job in a hospital to pay the bills, and I am realistic about the speed at which I'll be able to build a practice, but I don't want to have to get a job just to register to practice.
  • It, if possible, get worse. Let's say we were trying to make OS#1 (offspring #1) right now. That'd be a due date of March 2010. If it's next month (July) that'd be April 2010, August (May 2010) and September (June 2010). No problems. Lots of registered midwives for me to choose from. If we waited until October 2009 though - bam July 2010. I am left with the option of choosing a hospital birth, or going it alone at home. Yes - going it alone. Because I won't be able to employ a midwife to do that. That would risk a $30,000 fine for me, and one for her for good measure. I kid you not - it would be enticing a professional to work outside the scope of her practice. Which also means that I will not be able to practice in a homebirth setting. It will essentially be ILLEGAL for me to do so. And for you or I, or your sister, housemate, best friend, daughter etc to do so.
I can think of no other situation where something that has been shown to be as safe, or safer, than the mainstream option, is going to be illegal in a sneaky way. Or alternately where the way I choose to practice will be restricted.

I understand that many obstetricians and doctors would love nothing better than to have midwives return to being glorified obstetric nurses and not jump or squeak without their permission. I get that homebirth scares the crap out of women who are told that birthing in hospital is safe, easy and guaranteed not to leave you with a dead baby or lifelong issues (bwahahahahahaha - excuse my while I laugh at the ridiculousness of that idea). I appreciate that birth is scary and unknown and complicated sometimes but for the most part, it is a normal life process and the experts in this process are the midwives.

What made me so upset last night that I swore at the acting president of our national body, and cried in a meeting, is that the people in charge just. don't. GET. it. My future dreams are being offered up as the sacrificial temple virgin so that the other great things can go through. Because it affects so few women (and the VAST majority of midwives are women, though not 100% of them) then it is seen to be OK to give something up in the negotiations that are happening. To be told that something has to give, and in this case it is homebirth, and that I should consider the glass half full rather than half empty, makes me despair at the future I face. The people who are "negotiating" this are at the end of their careers and are doing work in the political upper eschelons because they are experienced and amazing - but they also need a smack up the side of the head for even being party to this process.

Where are the industry-wide protests? Where are the rolling strikes? Where are the midwives demanding freedom to practice, regardless of whether they agree with the practice or not? I'll tell you where they are - they are secretly glad that something like this will stop the "craziness" that they consider happens when a midwife walks with a woman who doesn't fit a low risk model of care - someone with twins, or a breech baby, or a medical condition, or obstetric history, or something other than being 22 years old, in perfect health and with a pelvis like a bucket.

My options are now looking like being to go overseas to practice how I want to. I've had one offer from Washington, and one from Waikato - any further?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey Em,

I signed the petition! More so because I believe that women who wish to have their babies at home should have the option to do so safely with a fully qualified midwife providing help as needed.

I think there does need to be some form of register for those who are qualified, just like doctors, lawyers, and most other professions need to join some form of organisation to state that they can legally practice, but I think, just as the government provides a way for people who set up their own private medical clinics to get insurance, there needs to be a way for midwives to gain this insurance also, before they make changes to the legislation!

Also, You might be interested in this article about home birth & free birth that I read a few months ago. There's quite a few different opinions presented in both the blog and the comments.

Candi xoxo