Spiritual Midwifery
Women of Spirit

International College Of

What Women Want (Australia) aims to be Australia's first female political party dedicated to advancing issues affecting Australian women

Dear Friends and Supporters of Birth Reform. Over the past 7 years I have given my heart and soul to reforming Australia's maternity system, with particular emphasis on women being able to choose the care of a known midwife (funded). I have met/spoken to many politicians and bureaucrats across several states. I have watched:

Both the Federal and State Governments refuse to provide assistance to private practicing midwives, despite funding indemnity to medical practitioners to the tune of hundreds of millions.

State Labour Governments by and large be very slow or refuse to facilitate women's choice and enable midwives to practice as they are educated and registered.

The Federal Government bring in amendments to Medicare Item No 16400 that enables RN's EN's (without midwifery qualifications) and Dr's (without obstetric training) to provide antenatal care to rural and remote women (a move unprecedented in health).

And all the while our interventions escalate and in my view women's positive experiences (and the view of mothering) are diminished.

I have had hope that a federal Labour Government would work with us to bring about major reform. In recent weeks I have less hope that this will happen without considerable pressure. To date those of us that front politicians simply appeal to their good nature (despite compelling argument). We have nothing really to bargain with.

I have thought long and hard about forming a political party. Nervously I announce that I plan to register a political party called What Women Want to contest senate seats and key marginal seats across Australia.

The main aim will be to gather media attention and as much electoral support as possible in order to pressure the major parties to achieve key election promises (ie Medicare funding for midwives).

The Australian Electoral Commission requires 500 signed up members before a party can be registered. I ask that you look at the website and consider joining. www.whatwomenwant.org.au. We only have a couple of months to get 500 members so if you are supportive, please JOIN SOON! Annual membership is $15 (in order to make it accessible). This fee is not even likely to meet the costs of registering candidates for the 
election (unless we get thousands of members).

The website reveals a 'feel for the party' there is a lot to do. I am hoping to recruit some passionate and skilled women in the coming weeks to help build on what's there.

I am approaching you as an individual and will not be seeking the support of either Maternity Coalition or Homebirth Australia in any way. Maternity Coalition and Homebirth Australia are apolitical organisations. Maternity Coalition and Homebirth Australia are not in a position (via their constitutions) to support any political party regardless of its aims. Please pass this on far and wide.

Yours sincerely

Justine Caines

Secretary - What Women Want
E-Mail:
www.whatwomenwant.org.au

Women will not be allowed to insist on caesarean deliveries in NSW public hospitals without a medical reason under a new health department policy

Julie Robotham Medical Editor SMH - April 7, 2007 - taken from http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2007/04/06/1175366473929.html

Women will not be allowed to insist on caesarean deliveries in NSW public hospitals without a medical reason under a new health department policy.

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The policy was devised to tackle increasing safety concerns about the high surgical birthrate.

"Maternal request on its own is not an indication for elective caesarean section," says a circular distributed to maternity units, doctors and nurse groups this week. "Specific reasons for the request must be explored, discussed and recorded."

Under the new rules, women must be told in detail about "the benefits and risks of caesarean section compared with vaginal birth specific to the woman and her pregnancy".

The policy cites a US study of more than 5 million births, which found last year that babies born by medically unnecessary caesarean were three times as likely to die in the newborn period as those born vaginally. The death rate for the caesarean babies was 1.77 for every 1000 live births, compared with 0.62 from normal delivery.

The new policy also obliges health professionals to advise women about the implications for subsequent pregnancies, amid emerging evidence that caesareans increase risks both for mothers and future babies.

A 2005 study of 136,000 second pregnancies across NSW found those women who had had a caesarean first delivery were at much greater danger of having a ruptured uterus, hysterectomy or infection, while their babies were more likely to be born prematurely, have serious breathing problems or need intensive care.

Elective caesarean rates have increased by 25 per cent since 2001, and now account for one in six births. Many of these are planned in advance for medical reasons, such as a baby that is too large for a natural delivery. But doctors say more women are opting for caesareans from personal preference - the so-called "too posh to push" phenomenon.

An additional one in eight infants is delivered by unplanned emergency caesarean.

Andrew Child, a member of the NSW Health Maternal and Perinatal Committee, which drafted the directive, said while first caesareans were generally safe, dangers escalated steeply with subsequent births. But it was "very hard to put that into perspective with mothers and fathers who are [focused] on their first baby".

The policy had been initiated because of concern at the rising number of babies admitted to intensive care after caesarean births, especially those performed too early. It also stipulates that to reduce the risk of breathing problems, elective caesareans should not generally be carried out before 39 weeks of pregnancy.

Dr Child, who heads obstetrics at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, said obstetricians in private practice feared legal action if they refused a caesarean and the woman then had a problem birth. "They say, 'If someone asks, we just go along with it,' " he said.

Although the new policy - the state's first on non-medical caesareans - was only binding in public hospitals, Dr Child said its impact would spread to private deliveries because most doctors worked in both systems. "It's aimed to be educational," he said, "to encourage people to have a good, hard think about it."

The secretary of the NSW Midwives Association, Hannah Dahlen, said, "People are becoming blase about [caesareans] and thinking of it as just another option for birth, rather than major abdominal surgery."

When someone insisted on surgical birth, she said, "The answer is to recognise this woman has some major issues to be explored." Such women, if properly supported, would often accept vaginal delivery.

 

C-Section Rate at All-Time High in U.S. By Kathleen Doheny

Nearly 1.2 million C-sections -- 29.1 percent of all births -- were performed in the United States in 2004, according to the National Centre for Health Statistics. In 1996, the rate was 20.7 percent. 

 

Furthermore, a new report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality found that: 

  • Use of C-section has increased by 38 percent since 1997, when about a fifth of all American babies were delivered this way. Now, more than 1 in 4 babies is delivered by C-section. 
  •  The rise was accompanied by a 60 percent decline in the rate of women giving birth vaginally after having a previous child born via C-section, and conversely, by a 33 percent rise in the rate of repeat C-sections. 
  • The national bill for childbirth as a whole in 2003 totalled $34 billion, with hospital stays involving C-section delivery accounting for nearly half this amount -- $15 billion. 
  • Medicaid -- the federal-state program for the poor -- was billed for 43 percent of childbirths overall and 41 percent of those involving c-section delivery. 

 

While Caesarean births are sometimes medically necessary, factors such as convenience are driving the rate too high, some experts contend. And the delivery method carries with it risks that aren't acceptable if a C-section isn't necessary to preserve the health of the mother or baby, doctors say. 

 

Multiple factors explain the growing rate of C-sections, said Dr. John Zweifler, chief of the University of California, San Francisco-Fresno Family and Community Medicine Department. He has done extensive research on C-sections as well as vaginal births after a woman has had a C-section, called VBACs (vaginal birth after Caesarean). 

 

Patient preference is one, with some women requesting them for convenience -- they can schedule the birth and plan time away from work and set up child care for other family members, for instance. "In our society, everything is on demand," Zweifler said, adding, C-sections can be "convenient for our lifestyle -- the doctor's and the patient's." 

 

Dr. Lawrence M. Leeman, a physician who specializes in family medicine, obstetrics and gynaecology at the University of New Mexico, said, "There's a kind of normalization of C-sections. As the C-section rates get higher, more and more women have had them, and it doesn't seem as scary any more." He also said many women are having elective induction of labour, and that in itself increases the chances of having a C-section. 

 

Some experts contend that the obesity epidemic may be partially driving the increasing C-section rate. The reason: Heavy women are at higher risk of high blood pressure and gestational diabetes, which could lead to a doctor-recommended Caesarean birth. 

 

A C-section is considered major surgery, as the physician cuts into a women's abdomen to remove the baby. Infection is a risk, as is increased blood loss and decreased bowel function. And recovery time is typically longer following a C-section, Zweifler said: "It can take four to six weeks to heal tissue." 

 

After a vaginal birth, he said, "it takes time for the uterus to shrink to normal size." But even so, many women are back to normal activities within a few days of a vaginal birth, while those who have a C-section tend to take longer -- sometimes up to six weeks -- due to soreness and pain. 

 

Among the valid reasons for having a C-section, Zweifler said, are the baby is in breech -- or feet first -- position in the womb; twins in the womb aren't lined up head first; or there's evidence of foetal distress or maternal haemorrhaging. 

 

Both Zweifler and Leeman suggest that women not consider a C-section just for convenience, especially if they plan to have more children. Repeat C-sections increase the risk of bladder or bowel problems. 

 

And, Leeman said, "Most women don't want a C-section. Most women want to have a vaginal delivery." 

 

"Birth is a very empowering process for women," Zweifler said. Having a C-section "is taking it out of the hands of women and putting it in the hands of a surgeon in a very sterile environment. If you have a life-threatening condition or a foetus in distress, a C-section can be life-preserving. But to do it on a routine basis when there is no risk to the mother and baby, you may be causing harm, and you need to be very cautious." 

 

Women who want to avoid a C-section should search for a doctor, midwife or hospital with a low rate of such deliveries, Leeman said. They should also consider hiring a doula -- a support person who stays with the woman throughout labor and delivery. Such assistance has been shown to reduce the need for a C-section. 

 

More information To learn more about childbirth, visit Childbirth.org.

 

Caesareans Significantly Increase Mothers' Mortality Risk

08/31/06 PARIS -- Women who opt for an elective caesarean have a threefold higher risk of mortality than those who choose vaginal delivery, according to investigators here. 

 

Women who died during or within 42 days of giving birth were significantly more likely to have had a caesarean than women who survived childbirth (41.5% versus 14.9%), reported Catherine Deneux-Tharaux, M.D., M.P.H., of Hopital Teno, and colleagues, in the September issue of Obstetrics & Gynaecology. 

 

Both caesarean deliveries initiated before onset of labour and those initiated during labour significantly increased risk of maternal death. Intrapartum caesarean was associated with a small, statistically insignificant increase in risk over prepartum caesarean (adjusted odds ratio 1.39, 95% CI 0.62 to 3.15). 

 

"Although caesarean delivery is increasingly perceived as a low-risk procedure, it is still associated with an increased risk of postpartum maternal death compared with vaginal delivery, even when performed before labour," said Dr. Deneux-Tharaux and colleagues. 

 

The rates of postpartum maternal death are relatively low in France as in other developed countries -- one in 10,000 live births for France compared with a one in 3,500 chance of pregnancy-related death in the United States -- but have shown little improvement over the past 20 years. 

 

The increased maternal mortality was caused primarily by venous thrombosis (25.9%), infection (14.8%), and anaesthesia complications (14.8%), they found. Postpartum haemorrhage was no higher for caesarean deliveries. None of these complications was among the most frequent causes of death after vaginal births (7.9%, 2.6% and 2.6% respectively). 

 

Postpartum haemorrhage was actually a less common cause of death following caesarean delivery than after vaginal birth (22.2% versus 50.0%). 

 

"This may be considered surprising, because mean blood loss associated with caesarean delivery has been shown to be greater than after vaginal delivery," the investigators wrote, but may be due to increased surveillance and care for women after a caesarean. 

 

Caesareans were associated with a significantly increased risk of postpartum maternal death compared with vaginal delivery even after adjusting for age, nationality, parity, and premature birth (odds ratio of 3.64; 95% confidence interval 2.15 to 6.19). The odds decreased only slightly to 3.3 after excluding preterm births. The study examined postpartum maternal mortality using a national surveillance program in France called the Confidential Enquiry on Maternal Deaths that included 269 deaths during the five-year study period from 1996 to 2000. 

 

The researchers narrowed their analysis to 65 maternal deaths that did not occur before delivery or after hospitalisation or chronic illness during pregnancy or result in multiple births. A control group consisted of 13,478 live, term births in France recorded in the 1998 French National Perinatal Study. 

 

"The method of delivery may constitute one potentially modifiable risk factor of maternal mortality," the investigators wrote, that "needs to be taken into account by clinicians and women when balancing the risks against the benefits of the different methods of delivery." 

 

Primary source: Obstetrics & Gynaecology Source reference: Deneux-Tharaux C, et al "Postpartum Maternal Mortality and Caesarean Delivery" Obstet Gynecol 2006; 108.

Act Now for Homebirth

To get homebirth publicly funded in Australia politicians must actually receive letters for your intentions to be enacted into law. Click here to find out how you can help.

 

PRIVATE HEALTH INSURERS IN AUSTRALIA
COVERING MIDWIFERY AND HOMEBIRTH @ 30 August 2007
Compiled for Birth Matters (SA), Homebirth Network SA, and the Maternity Coalition

Here is the latest information we have collected since August 2005 via mothers and midwives in Australian birth and midwifery networks about private insurance companies who have reimbursed for the services of an independent/private midwife covering homebirth or other midwifery services. Do send advice if you find more recent information, or can add information about other insurers, to download report.

 

April 13, 2007
Caesarean risks by Dr Sarah Buckley
Caesarean surgery: is it simply another way of being born? 


Does a caesarean give babies the safest possible entree to the world, conveniently protecting the mother�s pelvic floor at the same time? 

Or is a caesarean a substantial deviation from normality that introduces potential risks for mother and baby? Could our current caesarean epidemic even be a reproductive time-bomb, increasing risks as caesarean mothers proceed through subsequent pregnancies and births? Read more...

 
April 7, 2007
Women will not be allowed to insist on caesarean deliveries in NSW public hospitals without a medical reason under a new health department policy. 

The policy was devised to tackle increasing safety concerns about the high surgical birthrate. "Maternal request on its own is not an indication for elective caesarean section," says a circular distributed to maternity units, doctors and nurse groups this week. "Specific reasons for the request must be explored, discussed and recorded." Read more...

 
April, 2007
What Women Want (Australia) aims to be Australia's first female political party dedicated to advancing issues affecting Australian women 

Dear Friends and Supporters of Birth Reform. Over the past 7 years I have given my heart and soul to reforming Australia's maternity system, with particular emphasis on women being able to choose the care of a known midwife (funded)... I have thought long and hard about forming a political party. Nervously I announce that I plan to register a political party called What Women Want to contest senate seats and key marginal seats across Australia. Read More...

 

March 10, 2007
Dr Sarah Buckley responds to "sleep training" article in the Sydney Morning Herald

New motherhood can be exceptionally tiring but sleep training may not be biologically wise (March 3). Prolonged stress and crying raises cortisol levels, which may be neurotoxic to the baby's developing brain (SMH 3/3/07 p 5). A smart alternative to 'baby whispering' is 'baby snuggling'. 

Shared sleep between mother and baby gives the biological benefit of 'mutual regulation', including synchronised sleep cycles and increased levels of hormones of love (oxytocin) and pleasure (beta-endorphin). Snuggling with my four babies has given me more rest, less fatigue and relaxed, contented babies. And-one needs to get out of bed.

 

October, 2006
Pregnancy And Lactation May Affect Maternal Behaviour And Coping Skills

These new findings indicate that the maternal brain is a dynamic and changing structure, and suggest that increased activity of the prolactin receptor system in females who have given birth and breast fed their offspring may help mothers improve their abilities to both nurture children and manage stress. This possibility warrants further investigation as to how reproductive experience alters the mother's physiology and behaviour. Read More...

 

August, 2006
Caesareans Significantly Increase Mothers' Mortality Risk 

08/31/06 PARIS -- Women who opt for an elective caesarean have a threefold higher risk of mortality than those who choose vaginal delivery, according to investigators here. Read More...

 

C-Section Rate at All-Time High in U.S. By Kathleen Doheny 

The Caesarean section delivery rate stands at a record high in the United States, resisting efforts by federal health officials to reduce the rate to 15 percent by the year 2010. Read More...

 

 

 

To get homebirth publicly funded in Australia politicians must actually receive letters for your intentions to be enacted into law. Please cut and paste the attached letter template or print downloadable version, and and send to:
  

For downloadable version click here

 

The Hon Nicola Roxon MP
 Minister for Health and Ageing
Parliament House
CANBERRA  ACT  2600

                AND

The Hon Tanya Plibersek MP
Minister for the Status of Women and Minister for Housing
 Parliament House
 CANBERRA  ACT  2600     

 

AND your local member. If you're not sure who that is you can look it up at www.aec.gov.au

 

If you have any questions please contact Danni from HOMEBIRTH ACCESS SYDNEY at or on 02 9011 5708.

 

<insert your name and address>

 The Hon Nicola Roxon
 Minister for Health and Ageing
 PO Box 6022
 House of Representatives
 Parliament House
 Canberra  ACT  2600
 <remember to change this address for each letter and to delete everything in italics!>
 

 <insert the date>
 
 Dear Minister <when writing to your local member, if they’re not a minister, substitute their name: Dear Mr/Ms Surname>

 I am writing to you to ask you to provide Federal Government support to women who choose to give birth at home with the assistance of an independent midwife.
  
 <Add a paragraph of personal information if you wish – why you support homebirth, your own experience and why you think this action is important.>

 I am aware that support for expanding midwifery care was part of the ALP’s pre-election platform on Maternal and Child Health Services, in particular:
€ Reviewing the Medicare schedule to include midwives in the provision of maternity care and to facilitate the expansion of midwife-led care; and
€ Considering models of indemnification to facilitate the practice of midwives as experts and primary care givers in normal birth.

 I look forward to the Rudd Labor Government implementing these policies as soon as possible as a way of providing better, safer birth choices for Australian mothers.
  
 The World Health Organization (WHO) recognises midwives as “the most appropriate and cost effective type of health care provider to be assigned to the care of women in normal pregnancy and birth,” and the safety of planned homebirth is now well established in both Australian and international research.
  
 Midwifery care is a preventative health measure which not only assists in keeping well women and their babies out of hospital beds but represents a significant cost saving to Government. A birth at home costs significantly less than even the most straight-forward hospital birth and women who birth at home are less likely to have interventions including assisted delivery and caesarean section, or distressed babies. Women’s and their partners’ satisfaction with birth is also increased and women are more likely to breastfeed.  .  
  
 I also feel strongly that this is an issue of choice - supporting all women to choose the place and the practitioner that they feel most comfortable when giving birth.
  
 I would really appreciate your support for this issue in the lead up to the May 2008 budget.
  
 I look forward to your response.
  
 Kind regards
<insert your name>

 

 

Warning: Using a mobile phone while pregnant can seriously damage your baby

May 18, 2008, The Independent (One of the U.K.'s leading newspapers)
http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-wellbeing/health-news/warning...

Women who use mobile phones when pregnant are more likely to give birth to children with behavioural problems, according to authoritative research. A giant study, which surveyed more than 13,000 children, found that using the handsets just two or three times a day was enough to raise the risk of their babies developing hyperactivity and difficulties with conduct, emotions and relationships by the time they reached school age. And it adds that the likelihood is even greater if the children themselves used the phones before the age of seven. The results ... follow warnings against both pregnant women and children using mobiles by the official Russian radiation watchdog body, which believes that the peril they pose "is not much lower than the risk to children's health from tobacco or alcohol". The research – at the universities of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and Aarhus, Denmark – is to be published in the July issue of the journal Epidemiology. They found that mothers who did use the handsets were 54 per cent more likely to have children with behavioural problems and that the likelihood increased with the amount of potential exposure to the radiation. And when the children also later used the phones they were, overall, 80 per cent more likely to suffer from difficulties with behaviour. They were 25 per cent more at risk from emotional problems, 34 per cent more likely to suffer from difficulties relating to their peers, 35 per cent more likely to be hyperactive, and 49 per cent more prone to problems with conduct.

July 2008 - New PCOS Support Group in Melbourne

We are Positively Curious of Other Solutions... are you?

We have been diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and are creating an autonomous support group with the aim to explore our bodies and empower our beings!

We have come to believe that there is more to this condition than meets the eye of the medical model and are focused on alternative and holistic approaches to PCOS with an interest in the wider socio-cultural reasons for hormonal disturbances in women today.

We want to build a strong network of mutual support through fortnightly meet ups around Melbourne and envisage a whole range of different group activities including menstrual health workshops, womens sweats, womens circles, Chi Gong, art therapy and talks from alternative therapy practitioners.

We have a conscious desire to develop our physical, emotional and spiritual health with regards to our PCOS and beyond! Join us to meet other women with similar ideas, to share stories, have fun and feel empowered!!

 Please send us an email at !
 We look forward to hearing from you!

March 2009 - There is a very real threat that independent Midwifery services will be illegal as of July 2010

The attached sheet "Women- Push 09" has been prepared by the maternity coalition to guide people who want to help protect future access to the services of independent midwives in response to the recent Birthing Services Review.

The link to the review is http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/maternityservicesreview-report


The report is very clear that it does not support reforms which increase or fund womens access to homebirth. The Report proposes Commonwealth support for Medicare and indemnity insurance for midwives, but only working in non-homebirth practice. Midwives working outside these restrictions would not be able to legally practice, due to impending reforms:

P53: “For privately practising midwives, it is not currently a requirement in most jurisdictions to have professional indemnity cover in place before registration is granted. However, this situation is expected to change under the proposed new National Registration and Accreditation Scheme.”

The consequence of all this is that homebirth practice by private midwives (most homebirth care) would not be insured, and would be illegal under national registration laws, scheduled to take effect in July 2010.


Homebirth Australia has been busy. There is a petition for you to sign and I know some of you have already done this. The website to sign the petitition is <http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/australianhomebirth>


And the vidoe made this week by Homebirth Australia's Jo Hunter is on the Homebirth website.

Also if you go to the HBA website www.homebirthaustralia.org Scroll down slightly and click on the link where it says save private midwifery video.

So get writing folks. How effective will that be?.... well certainly better than doing nothing at all.
Our federal government needs to take this on at this point and this is why there needs to be numerous small voices in the ear of the local Federal MP. That then gets sent on to the health minister but it is noticeable when it comes from multiple petitioners via letters from the MP's. Write a letter to the Health minister and go see your MP as well. Support the profession of midwifery and the right of women to choose.