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

Catherine Henry Lawyers
Catherine Henry Lawyers

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Normal Birth

There are a lot of things to think about when it comes to childbirth, especially the first time. There is much written about “normal childbirth” but what does this mean?

Normal childbirth is a “catch-all” phrase encompassing spontaneous labour at term (38–42 weeks) and head-first vaginal delivery. However, childbirth is not that simple, and every woman’s experience is different.

It is 10 years since the NSW Government launched the Towards Normal Birth campaign the aim of which was:

  • 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; and
  • 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; and
    • using different positions for labour and birth.

The Towards Normal Birth Policy Directive is currently under review by the NSW Ministry of Health who conducted workshops between health professionals, consumers and various stakeholders between February and May 2019 to discuss maternity care in NSW. The outcome of this review will be a “companion” to a Policy Directive published by NSW Health in February 2019 entitled “The First 2000 Days Framework”, which focuses on “the importance of the first 2000 days in a child’s life (from conception to age 5).”

Thinking about the aims of the Towards Normal Birth Policy of 2010 – especially in respect of the “aim to increase the vaginal birth rate in NSW and decrease the caesarean section (CS) operation rate” – according to The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG – a not-for-profit organisation which amongst other things supports research into women’s health) “while caesarean delivery is associated with increased surgical risks during the birthing experience, and increased risks in relation to future conception and births, vaginal delivery may not be appropriate for some women…”.

RANZCOG published a statement in 2017 regarding Caesarean Delivery on Maternal Request (CDMR) the objectives of which were to “provide advice on management where a woman requests elective delivery by caesarean section where there are no identifiable medical or obstetric contraindications to an attempt at vaginal delivery”.

It recognised that “…psychological factors may heavily influence a woman’s choice for a caesarean birth including experiences of previous birth trauma or significant life trauma” and concluded, “…when a woman requests an elective caesarean section in the absence of medical indication, obstetricians acknowledge the legitimacy of the request and explore the reasons underlying it

We have assisted many women and achieved good outcomes and compensation with all sorts of enquiries regarding their birthing experience.

If you have experienced what you think might be “birth trauma” associated with vaginal or caesarean delivery including the labour process, we might be able to help you.

Linda Crawford, senior solicitor was a midwife before becoming a lawyer and would be very happy to discuss your experience with you.

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