This year 19 to 25 July is Birth Trauma Awareness Week. To do our part to raise awareness, we have released a special episode.
In episode 11 of our podcast, Growing Stronger, Tanya Chapman is joined by colleague and Senior Solicitor Linda Crawford to discuss a few of the birth trauma cases that the Health Law team at Catherine Henry Lawyers have been involved in.
These cases will demonstrate how traumatic the injuries sustained in childbirth can be and how they can have lifelong consequences for the child, the mother, and the father.
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Birth trauma refers to injuries sustained in childbirth – either to the mother or to the child.
Unfortunately, injury and trauma are more common than you might think, and in Australia, 1 in 3 women who give birth may experience birth trauma.
We are doing this episode in recognition of Birth Trauma Awareness Week (which for 2021 is from 19 to 25 July) and because it is a much broader issue that people may think, we are only going to cover a small part of maternal birth trauma in this episode – meaning injury to the mother during birth.
Maternal birth trauma can be physical trauma or psychological and it is not uncommon for a woman to have both. Once upon a time, trauma to the woman would have been trivialised by doctors and others – the focus was always on the birth of a healthy child no matter the cost to the mother.
This week I am joined by Senior Solicitor Linda Crawford from the Health Law team at CHL. Linda specialises in obstetric and birth trauma claims and has highly developed knowledge in this field, having worked as a nurse and midwife for 17 years before becoming a lawyer 10 years ago. She has a strong understanding of the health system and is able to quickly assess poor clinical outcomes particularly in cases where birth trauma has occurred.
As we’re located in NSW, what we’re discussing today will be based on the law in NSW and is not intended to be taken to be applied Australia-wide.
Operating here in NSW gives rise to another reason for focussing on maternal birth trauma. As we are recording this episode, the NSW government is deliberating on the birthing policy that all health providers are expected to comply with.
At present, the NSW government policy – called Towards a Normal Birth – is very weighted towards encouraging women to have vaginal deliveries – rather than caesarean sections or c-sections. This comes from a concern held by some that the c-section rate is too high.
The NSW government has undergone a consultation process and held workshops around the state. In fact, one of our health lawyers has attended and presented at one of these workshops held in mid north coast NSW where we have a regional office. The govt has made it known that as a result of the consultation process that the focus needs to be changed so that women are given full information about birthing processes, what is involved in the various modes of delivery including information about instrumental delivery and be empowered to make their own birth choices – whether that be to deliver vaginally or c-section.
While we aim to be informative in this podcast, it is not intended to be a substitute for legal advice. This is not the place for dense legal argument and in discussing cases, we often skip over parts that may be too technical and we do generalise. It’s important that you see a solicitor for complete advice that relates directly to your particular situation.
Also in this episode, there will be some content that some might find disturbing as we will be discussing in some detail medical procedures and outcomes. Listener discretion is advised. And of course, there will be some medical terminology that we’ll explain along the way so you don’t need to consult a medical dictionary or textbook and risk seeing some disturbing images (like I did).
In this episode we discuss:
- types of maternal birth trauma injures – physical and psychological
- long-lasting impacts of birth trauma
- the legal options available to women who have experienced birth trauma
- 4 cases of birth trauma in which the Health Law team at Catherine Henry Lawyers represented the injured women.
The Australasian Birth Trauma Association (ABTA) was founded in 2016. They are the first charity solely dedicated to supporting women, partners and families after birth-related trauma.
You can go to the ABTA website to find out more about the amazing work the organisation does, to volunteer or to donate.
You can listen to all Growing Stronger episodes below: