'Childbirth shouldn't be determined by insurance cover' says local Right to Birth movement

"Statistics suggest some doctors are putting women and their babies at unnecessary risk by encouraging them to undergo a very invasive surgery."
"Statistics suggest some doctors are putting women and their babies at unnecessary risk by encouraging them to undergo a very invasive surgery."

Recent developments have seen women with private insurance being pressured into choosing Caesarean births when not medically necessary says local advocacy group, Right to Birth SA (RTB). 

The Western Cape-based organisation works to protect the rights of women to choose the way they give birth which, RTB tells us, has a far-reaching impact on both a mother and her newborn's "well-being before, during and after birth." 

Mothers who are involved and have a choice in their birthing experiences have also been shown to have a lower rate of post-natal depression and anxiety. 

Also read: Right to Birth Movement launches in Cape Town

'The global recommendation'

But according to RTB, expecting moms who have set their sights on a midwife-led birth will be hard-pressed in accessing this type of care in Cape Town. 

"Women should have the choice to give birth with a midwife-led team, which is the global recommendation from the WHO. But that choice is no longer available to women in Cape Town." 

Referring to a 2018/19 report by the Council of Medical Schemes (CMS), a national regulatory body, which shows around 75% of births in SA are done via C-section, Glynnis Garrod, says doctors are putting women and their babies at "unnecessary risk." 

"Statistics suggest some doctors are putting women and their babies at unnecessary risk by encouraging them to undergo a very invasive surgery," she explains. 

Garrod is the co-founder of Birth Options, a private midwife practice that announced it would close in July 2020 as a result of the lack of support from the obstetrics community. 

'Not worth the risk'

"While obstetricians don't necessarily have any issues with midwives, it's just not worth the risk at the end," obstetrician Dr Peter de Jong responded, when he told reporters that obstetricians are often the ones who are sued when vaginal births go wrong, and not private midwives. 

"In a case where delivery goes wrong, an obstetrician, who has an unlimited risk insurance cover, is more likely to be sued than a midwife." 

While the risk of being sued over complications is an issue, RTB says it shouldn't come before women's rights.  

"Birth is an intensely intimate process for a woman and her family. Bringing a child into this world shouldn't be governed by legal risks or insurance cover," Garrod says.

Compiled for Parent24 by Lesley-Anne Johannes 

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