I first wrote about the problem last year. Promoting normal birth is killing mothers and babies:
Gill Edwards, a leading clinical negligence solicitor with the firm Pannone, is in no doubt why these fatal mistakes continue.
‘Too often, we see a desire for autonomy, sometimes verging on arrogance, on the part of some midwives,’ she says.
‘It leads them to ignore National Midwifery Council rules that require them to call on the skills of other health professionals whenever something happens which is outside their sphere of practice…’
‘Some of our worst cases occur because the drive to achieve a “normal” delivery clouds the judgment of midwives about when to call in specialist help from an obstetrician, or for a paediatrician to be present at the birth to assist with resuscitation when there are signs of foetal distress during labour,’ says Ms Edwards.
The result is an unimaginable toll in deaths and injuries of mothers and babies. A new report from the NHS Litigation Authority makes it clear that there is a massive financial toll as well.
Senior staff and consultants must be available on the labour wards 24 hours a day in order to supervise junior doctors and midwives and reduce mistakes, said the report from the NHS Litgiation Authority…
The 5.5 million babies born in England between 1 April 2000 to 31 March 2010, resulted in 5,087 maternity claims, involving payouts of £3.1bn, including legal fees…
The most frequent mistakes cited in claims involved management of labour including failure to recognise the baby was in distress from fetal heart monitoring equipment or delay in acting; caesarean section including mistakes and delays and cerebral palsy, where the baby is starved of oxygen at birth and sustains brain damage, often requiring life-long care.
Other claims related to missing abnormalities on antenatal scans, drug errors, maternal deaths, damage to the mother, shoulder injuries to the baby, womb rupture and stillbirth.
The report said: “Unfortunately, many of the same errors are still being repeated.”
Confronted with the fact that midwives’ relentless promotion of “normal birth” is injuring and killing babies and costing the National Health Service billions of pounds in medical negligence claims each year, Royal College of Midwives head Cathy Warwick responds by … promoting “normal birth.”
Warwick’s response is bizarre, as the video below demonstrates. It’s like a Monty Python sketch and if it weren’t so serious, it would be quite amusing.
It is precisely the attitude expressed by Warwick in the video that is responsible for the staggering toll in preventable deaths, injuries and financial compensation.
The most important thing anyone needs to know about promoting normal birth is this:
Promoting normal birth is always and only about promoting midwives.
“Normal birth” is a way to sanitize what is really nothing more than midwifery marketing. Insisting that women hire midwives because midwives want employment isn’t particularly persuasive. Insisting that women hire midwives because only they can provide them with a “normal” birth (who wants an abnormal birth?) sounds a lot better.
It’s time to put an end to this lunacy. Women and babies are dying preventable deaths because midwives are more concerned with market share than with patient safety. Promoting “normal birth” is fundamentally unethical. An ethical medical professional recommends whatever is safest for the patient, not whatever is most beneficial for the provider.