Social media, birth plans giving parents ’unreasonable expectations

Submissions to NSW’s landmark birth trauma inquiry, which begins on Monday, reveal disagreement between those who work in the delivery room about how distress during birth occurs, with one medical college concerned the inquiry’s language unfairly characterises doctors as deliberately causing suffering.

Triggered by complaints made by 30 mothers about maternity services at Wagga Wagga Base Hospital, the NSW Legislative Council’s birth trauma inquiry is the first of its kind in Australia.

It will investigate the prevalence of trauma as a result of “inappropriate, disrespectful or abusive treatment … also referred to as ‘obstetric violence’” and whether it has roots in birth practices, with a particular focus on instrumental births and the availability of trauma-informed care.

The prevalence of birth trauma is difficult to quantify. A Western Sydney University study of more than 8000 women’s experiences published last year found one in 10 said they had or may have had a birth experience that amounted to “obstetric violence”.

In a defensive submission to the inquiry, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) criticised the use of the term “obstetric violence”, calling for it to be changed.

In contrast, the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association’s submission alleged obstetric violence and birth trauma were major problems in the maternity system, citing a July survey of its members which found 80 per cent felt unable to successfully advocate for women in their care and 90 per cent had been at a birth they felt may have been traumatic.

Its submission also included multiple anonymous quotes from nurses and midwives about doctors’ behaviour in the delivery room, with one alleging they had “personally restrained doctors hands when they were about to do a vaginal examination without consent”, while a second criticised “fearmongering language” used when doctors advised women to be induced.

“Informed consent is not often gained as there is only one side of the information being portrayed,” the second member said.

Source: 12ft | Social media, birth plans giving parents ’unreasonable expectations

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