Right to Birth Movement launches in Cape Town

Glynnis Garrod speaks at the Right to Birth brainstorm (Photo credit: Caitlyn Fay Smit @kt_fayphoto)
Glynnis Garrod speaks at the Right to Birth brainstorm (Photo credit: Caitlyn Fay Smit @kt_fayphoto)

As one of the many women who was denied her right to birth in the way she chose, I completely support the newly launched Right to Birth movement. 

A complicated pregnancy combined with a dismissive, uncaring gynea led to me having an emergency C-Section, an awful hospital stay, and a hard time bonding with my tiny preemie.

I'm not the only one who experienced this, and every mom group will have those mothers who look back at their birth experience with grief, pain or regret. 

Sure, we can comfort ourselves and each other with the reassurance that as long as the baby is healthy, all is well.

But that's not actually true.

Long term results of having your right to choose removed include struggling to bond with your baby, which can lead to difficulties with breastfeeding and an increased chance of developing post-natal depression.

Short term results include birth complications, surgical procedures that could have been avoided and a longer recovery time for an often traumatised mother.

The right to choice 

Right to Birth SA was started by Glynnis Garrod, a Professional Nurse and Registered Midwife, Courtney Atkinson and Nikki Banner, with the aim to ensure that women are empowered in the knowledge that they have a choice of how and with whom they birth.

Recently, the three held a forum in Cape Town to highlight the various obstacles Obstetricians and Midwives are facing in providing low-risk clients with a right to choose the caregiver best suited to their needs.

“Midwives and their pregnant clients are needing a voice to ensure that they may have access to Midwifery-led care within a multidisciplinary team in the Private Sector,” Glynnis told Parent24.

The system is failing our families

“These issues are very complex, and include incorporating Indemnity Insurance, Litigation, Medical Aids and Hospital Managements,” she explains. “Ultimately it is the client who should be at the centre of her care, yet the system is failing our families.”    

All labouring women are in fact cared for by midwives, therefore if midwifery care is allowed to be perceived as an inferior model in SA, fewer woman will choose to study midwifery. This will lead to increased morbidity and mortality in the future, she says.

The situation is critical

Glynnis explained to us that these concerns are certainly not only in Cape Town and do extend to the rest of South Africa. However, the situation in Cape Town is critical, she says, with only two Obstetricians providing the needed Obstetric support for private clients choosing a Midwife as her primary caregiver.

In the government sector, it is the norm for low-risk pregnant women to be cared for by Midwives in the MOU’s (Midwife Obstetric Units) first, and referred to secondary institutions if a complication is detected.

The team held a brainstorm session, inviting the public to contribute their ideas and skills, in an attempt to find a solution.     

Some of the suggestions include:

-        No win - No fee legal companies need to be investigated and a mandatory mediation clause adhered to for Obstetric care.

-        Obstetricians need support in challenging the astronomical indemnity insurance required.

-        Medical Aids need to be held accountable for the unacceptably high percentage of Caesarean section claims authorised. 

-        Hospital Groups need to acknowledge the importance of patient centered care and the value of Midwives, by supporting Doctors who are prepared to be inconvenienced by providing Obstetric support to Independent Midwives and their clients.  

An ideal outcome would be to have a Team of Obstetricians supporting a Team of Midwives in providing low-risk pregnant women with evidenced based, patient centred care.

Would you like to get involved? You can find the team on Facebook at Right to Birth SA.

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