Brave New World: The Birth State

Last week a NSW woman received a visit from Bathurst police when she failed to keep an appointment at the local hospital for an unwanted induction. The point was – she had employed a private midwife, she was having a homebirth, the local hospital had botched her first birth and the only reason she was going to the hospital was for monitoring because she was 12 days overdue.

Knowing the political climate – the visits to the hospital, I am assuming were to keep the bureaucracy off their backs and for the midwife to be able to say she was doing everything ‘according to the book’ – monitoring a woman who was pushing past ‘acceptable dates’ for birthing.

But coppers on your door step when heavily pregnant? Screams of bullying tactics. Bet they don’t send the coppers around for just any old client who misses an appointment.

While the Health District issued an official apology after the story became viral across the digital media outlets – did they really need to call the police for a ‘welfare check.’

When I created a band of  ‘secret agents’  for my Fourth Fiction novella – I wondered if I was pushing the acceptable boundaries. A Government who legislates against natural birth and thus creates a branch of policing who tap phones, follow people, use torture and interrogation, puts the fear of God through the populace and hunt down midwives and their clients for firing squads… well part of me feels as though it is not that far fetched.

Don’t do what you’re told and we’ll be around to visit…

In mid 2004 the Qld Government passed legislation to protect unborn children. The idea behind the legislation was to provide some protection for babies for example,  of mothers who were drug addicts or were known to be living in abusive relationships. But all it takes are some unpleasent, pissed off hospital bureaucrats to abuse a new legislation.

The Royal Women’s Hospital made a complaint against a North Brisbane woman who had been trying to get support there for a natural birth after two previous caesareans. When it became clear late in her pregnancy that she was not going to get the support she needed, she chose to go to a different hospital. Upset with the treatment by the Royal she didn’t bother to phone or cancel her next appointment, fed up and stressed out with the bully, beligerent behaviour of staff there.

When she failed to attend, the hospital took it upon themselves to ‘assume’ she was now going to have a homebirth, decided this endangered the life of her unborn child and sent police officers around to investigate a report of ‘child abuse’.

The woman was in early labour when the police arrived and she was left to convince the police she was indeed receiving care from an alternate hospital. The woman still has a record with child services as a result of this call out.

This is the not first nor the last breach of trust from a hospital.

Consider the homebirth Mum who was having twins but wanted to do the right thing and engage the hospital in conversation about a working partnership with her and her partner, and their midwife – her details and the details of her midwife from this informal discussion were passed on, in a breach of confidentiality, to other authorities. Her midwife was bullied and threatened with deregistration. The woman ended up in a private hospital attempting to negotiate a natural birth but lost her battle. Four hours after her twins were born by major abdominal surgery she was back in to repair a major cut in her bladder, caused during the original operation.

Or… of the homebirth Mum who made was trying to do the right – to book into hospital, and her doctor’s referral requesting an ante natal appointment to ‘book in’ made it all the way to the Director of Nursing’s desk, because it mentioned a previous  ‘homebirth’ and an incorrect midwife’s name written down. The storm which followed included lawyers because the erroneously mentioned midwife was under investigation by her professional body (she was ‘rude’ to an obstetrician during a transfer) and had was also under a health department edict not to attend homebirths while employed as a public midwife.

When you do the right thing – they just want to shit all over you and let you know who is boss. Well the truth is, a woman is the ‘boss’ of her body and a woman will not hand over the sovereinty of her body without a fight. This is why I set foot for the last time in a hospital at 20 weeks having had a scan, with both Dave and I agreeing it was no place to welcome a baby into the world. Good thing too – I birthed at 42 weeks.

The time is ripe to get back to my (still unnamed) novella and complete the next six installments. It is this type of arrogance and bullying behaviour which gets my goat up, and the creative stream flowing.

Thanks to Felicity Dowker for inciting his blog rant!

5 thoughts on “Brave New World: The Birth State

  1. My God. I had no idea it was this difficult. How horrific. And to think it’s all about something that’s absolutely integral to the human race at all: having a baby. You know, something a body was able to do thousands of years BEFORE hospitals. Yes, it’s safer now. Yes, children (and mothers) need and deserve to be protected. And I’m glad for all of that. I’m glad that society can take care of each other and itself. But this just sounds like a sci fi novel. Unreal.

    I very much understand your novella, now (or at least some of the inspiration behind it.)


  2. It got better this week when the AMA (Aust Medical Assoc for you Jen) released a research paper with an incorrect summary and a dodgey press release to go with it – specifically cashing in on the fact journos these days don’t READ anything – just regurgitate press releases – and thus we had headlines reading “Seven times more likely to die in a homebirth”.

    That’s a whole blog post in itself and more fodder for the novella.


  3. *Shudders* I really don’t like the way things are going for women who want to homebirth in Australia! They’ve made it so hard to get the births registered, and for the midwives to just do their jobs. With the health system so swamped why on Earth don’t they just let women get on with birthing the way they want to?

    I’ve got to read your novella.


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