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When it comes to birth, what’s ‘normal’ got to do with it?

When It Comes To Birth, What’s ‘normal’ Got To Do With It?

If women suffer third or fourth degree tears, or emotional trauma through child birth, is that just part of what we call ‘normal’? Chandrika Darroch, Accredited Specialist in Personal Injury Law, asks the question.

Are you a parent? Did your child or children enter the world during a ‘normal’ birth?

An article doing the rounds recently highlights concerns over the obstetric and perinatal care women are receiving because of the New South Wales Government’s desire for women to give birth naturally.

According to the article published by the Daily Telegraph, many women have suffered terribly as a result of hospitals delaying or failing to perform caesarean sections. It claims there’s now an epidemic in forceps deliveries and hospitals are failing to properly consider the risks associated with ‘normal’ birth when a caesarean may have been the safer option.

“Surely normal means treating the safety and wellbeing of mother and child as paramount” — Chandrika Darroch

The Towards Normal Birth campaign was instituted by the NSW government in 2010. The policy aims:

“To increase the vaginal birth rate in NSW and decrease the caesarean section (CS) operation rate
 To develop, implement and evaluate strategies to support women to have a positive experience of pregnancy and birth
To ensure that midwives and doctors have the knowledge and skills to support women who choose to give birth

  • without technological interventions unless necessary 
  • with non-pharmacological intervention
  • in birthing pools
  • using different positions for labour and birth.”

When it comes to giving birth, what really is normal? Is it normal for women to suffer from third or fourth degree tears and for babies to die unnecessarily due to prolonged labour? Or for mothers to be left with post-natal depression as they deal with the physical and mental aftermath of a traumatic delivery? These are but a few of the stories told by mothers who allege they’ve suffered unnecessary harm as a result of being denied a caesarean section.

When it comes to giving birth, surely normal means treating the safety and wellbeing of mother and child as paramount.

In circumstances where a cesarean section is identified as the safest possible option, hospitals, doctors and midwives have an inherent duty to ensure that such deliveries take place over and above any government policy to promote this notion of a normal birth.

 Chandrika Darroch is an Accredited Specialist in Personal Injury Law and a Senior Associate in our Health Law team at Catherine Henry Lawyers.

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