Birth Rights & Choices; the Hot Breech Birth
After a swealtering week in the UK the hot topics in maternity care have been on my mind. There is so much in the headlines with the new ways of working following the State of the Maternity Services report. There is also excting work from Rebecca Schiller whose book Why Human Rights in Childbirth Matter coming out shortly highlighting the essential premise that all women are entitled to respectful maternity care that protects their human rights and birth rights.
Breech, that only touches a small proportion of women and pops up occasionally for birth workers, seems a very insignificant deal alongside these big hitters. And yet for those women who it does affect it is the biggest deal. Women that I talk to about their experiences of breech say that finding out their baby was breech was a huge thing. For some it was devastating, taking all their dreams of the birth they had planned and wanted, for others it was the start of a battle for their right to choose their birth preference and for others it was overwhelming fear of breech and what was to come.
I read and hear about women who say they ‘had to have’ a casarean because their baby was breech and were not offered a choice to have a vaginal birth. I have talked to some health professionals who admit to putting things in a way that means women usually end up ‘choosing’ a casarean section (see Andrew Kotaska’s article on coersion around councelling for breech birth). I have listened to women who tell me they were told they were ‘stupid’ for even considering a vaginal breech birth and how isolated they felt when making their decisions. It was one of the reasons I developed the breech birthing website www.breechbirthing.com, to offer a source of information and support for women’s birth rights and choices.
All of these are examples of the violation of the Human Rights Act, Article 8: Failure to provide sufficient, objective and unbiased information for a woman to make an informed choice. Its worth checking in with the Human Rights Act and Birthrights excellent website: www.birthrights.org.uk to know the law of the land.
Breech, like all births needs respecting as does each woman (and their families) who carries a breech baby. Each situation needs to be considered in terms of the safest thing to do for both mum and baby but with HONESTY about what we know, how we know it and most importantly what we DON’T know – and we still dont know a lot about breech presentation and breech birth (see the research section on the website). The law needs to be followed, professional regulations need to be adhered to (NMC Code of Conduct, GMC Duties of a Doctor) but simply we need to apply the family rule. People need to treat people how they would like their own family to be treated, with care and compassion.
Breech is a hot topic. Breech is a human rights issue. Breech is a birth rights issue. The minimum required is to ensure women with breech babies have the freedom to make choices, lets make that happen today!