Saturday, 3 December 2016

It was like looking at midwifery care from the 1950's.

The article 'Where to now?' published in the Autumn 2016 issue of Midwives Magazine was a very interesting read on how to deliver continuity of care in today's cash crippled NHS. However, the illustrations to accompany this piece were draconian and outdated to say the least. All five of the pregnant women shown were lying submissive on hospital beds. It was like looking at midwifery care from the 1950's.

The care givers are all stood over the women in positions of authority and seem to be totally disempowering them. There are some token birth balls and birth pools scattered about but none of these are actually being used. If this is a reflection of how we view women today during birth then it is a very sad picture indeed.

I gave birth to my children in the 1980's when women were just a piece of meat to be put through the system. No thought was given to our physical or psychological needs at all. It took champions like Sheila Kitsinger, god rest her beautiful soul, and Sally Inch to fight for the rights of women during all aspects of pregnancy care.

The fact that such a demoralising illustration is being presented to us in our own Midwives Magazine is very disturbing. Society as a whole treats pregnant women with distain, constantly teaching them that labour WILL BE a very painful and traumatic event to be feared. Television programmes like One Born Every Minute do a great disservice to women by editing and highlighting births that appear very disturbing in order to win the rating wars. They often show midwifery practice at its worse. The hospitals who take part in these programmes should be ashamed of themselves and have set birth emancipation back decades.

It sometimes seems to me that pregnancy and birth is the last hurdle we have to overcome in a patriarchal society that takes every opportunity to treat women as 2nd class, keeping us in our place. Showing such illustrations does not help feminist aspirations concerning birth or any other aspect of pregnancy care. Has anything in the last 30 years really changed or do we just give the same old authoritative care, only now are we being taught to do it with a smile on our face to soften the insult?

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