Something strange is going on.
I've been struggling for a while to put my finger on it though.
Here are my thoughts...
The evidence is showing that birth experiences should be improving for women. That choice is opening up.
I see more fantastic ante-natal and hypnobirthing teachers than ever before. I am reading so many amazing birth stories from my clients. Birth choices are easier than ever to research. Women are wanting and asking for more.
And home birth is considered to be as safe as hospital birth for all women...
...or is it all women...?
I hear the words 'low risk'...it seems that I am hearing them everywhere.
Now, that might be fine. Surely most women are 'low risk'? They are aren't they? I mean, we are not an ailing society are we?
It seems though as if the net for 'low risk' is getting smaller and smaller...the bar set higher and higher.
Your weight matters, your placenta is a concern, your baby's weight is too high or too low, your blood sugars are 0.01% too high, the scan shows this, the palpation reveals that, your baby is not in the right position, your dates have changed, your dates are wrong, you are too old, too IVF, too awkward....you are a danger to yourself and your baby.
I followed a thread the other day regarding a water home birth. The midwife visiting suggested that the mother get better insurance because 'if you pass out in the birth pool we'll need to slice the pool open to get you out'. Another story where a mother was told that at her home birth they will only allow her 30 minutes of pushing before calling an ambulance.
Another consultant told a mother that over 41 weeks her stillbirth rate increases massively and her placenta will start to fail.
Another mother was told that if her waters break at home she needs to go straight to hospital...even though she is planning a home birth.
It's as if the sparkling surface is saying 'We can do all of this wonderful work for low-risk women and their low-risk pregnancies...we are making birth so much better for you'. But scratch that surface and a rather ugly truth is starting to appear. The fight is still on. The misogynism is still there. The HCPs are still holding most of the cards and they are holding them very close to their chests.
Why this is happening is open to discussion. Is it an ailing, under-funded system? Is it our litigious society? Is it a technocratic and patriarchal throw back? Is it just us?
I don't have the answers I'm afraid. I appreciate that some women will receive gold standard and individualised care. But many, many will not ...because there are just too many hoops to jump through.