Metro Ottawa Newspaper October 21, 2012: “Dr. Nancy Salgueiro, an Ottawa chiropractor and childbirth coach, wants a public inquiry into what she says are violations of women’s right to informed consent during childbirth. To help fuel her call she’s launched a website to collect the stories of women who say their rights weren’t respected in delivery rooms.
“If anybody does anything to someone’s body without their permission, they’ve violated their right to informed consent, and that happens all the time,” said Salguiero.
Salguiero said she believes 95 per cent of pregnant women undergo unnecessary interventions, such as caesarean sections or epidurals, because they are uniformed of the risks.
“Generally, pregnant women are healthy, normal people going through a normal biological process, like going to the bathroom or digesting food,” she said. “They don’t need to be told how to do it.”… “Keep reading here: http://metronews.ca/news/ottawa/411135/delivery-room-choices-mothers-fight-for-right-to-informed-consent/
You have to love how reporters have their own way of writing a story. After a 30 minute conversation about women’s right in birth she did summarize some of the key points. I have some correction I’d like to make. And I didn’t exactly just launch the website, but whatever.
Also very important detail: Women have the right to informed consent in birth. We are not fighting for that right. It is our right. The reality is this right to informed consent is not being upheld and women are being violated against the law but it has become the norm in our society that no one recognizes it or does anything about it.
“Salguiero said she believes 95 per cent of pregnant women undergo unnecessary interventions, such as caesarean sections or epidurals, because they are uniformed of the risks.” I didn’t actually say this. I said about 95% of women have likely had their right to informed consent violated. For example, they refused a treatment but it was still done, a treatment was preformed with having first given consent, their questions went unanswered, they were pressured or coerced or told they
had no choice, or they were not given knowledge of all the side effects and risk. They were not told the benefit of doing nothing or the alternatives. Many choices in childbirth are driven out of practitioners telling women the MUST for the life of their baby whether or not that is actually the truth. That is not informed consent and violates the the Health Care Consent Act of 1996.
“Kathryn Clarke, senior communications co-ordinator at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, says physicians are obliged to provide enough information to patients so they can make decisions.” This is not true. It isn’t just enough information to say yes to the procedure. It is enough information that they have a full understanding of risks, side effects, and alternatives. They also need to be given the right to refuse.
I have to share my comment at the end of this article because as per usual this spurred the typical birth isn’t about bragging rights, women are selfish for wanting to be respected in birth, and myth that breech birth is dangerous.
This was my response.
Dear Happy Parent,
Birth has nothing to do with “bragging rights” and no one is suggesting it is (except you).
This is about women choosing for themselves the best way to birth their babies. Many of us want to have gentle births so that the BABY is not traumatized in the process. Gentle births are hands off, intervention free, which is hard to achieve when unnecessary interventions are being forced on you. If you are looking at what is best for the baby, it is best to be born spontaneously without being ripped out of your mothers womb (manually, forceps, vacuum, etc) and that is achievable for most babies, but happens for few.
Birth is not only about the baby. There are more people involved here. It is the birth of a mother, the birth of a father, and the birth of a new family unit. When women are disrespected and degraded in birth it affects her on a deep level. She may or may not even recognize it but when you are treated the way many women are treated in birth or told that your body failed (“Failure to progress”) it affects you. Birth is not a one day event that is done once your baby is outside the womb. The physical and emotional scars and pain that can be created for both mom and baby can last a lifetime. Baby’s need healthy moms for optimal development. Optimally healthy moms come out of healthy births where mom is treated with respect . Does it need to be intervention free? No, some birth require some intervention to create a healthy outcome, those are just the minority but we treat it as if it is the majority.
It is obvious that so many women are traumatized in birth by all the horror stories that are passed down from woman to woman. It is almost as if the most traumatic birth gives us the greatest bragging rights. Women who have experienced joyous and empowering births are not trying to brag about their births. They are sharing them so other women can know that they too can create a gentle beginning for their baby. We need more women sharing their great births so a new generation of birthing mothers can come to birth knowing that it is something that they are fully capable of and will take great strength from.
It is not about ego, just that we have all gained great strength and self awareness through achieving something so great. Like if I successfully ran a marathon or climbed the Himalayas, I would take great strength from that. I’m not saying anything about you if you haven’t done those things I’m just sharing what it did for me. Someone hearing another women’s story of strength and taking it as a threat to her own self is functioning out of ego and may be needs to heal from her own experience. If you are that confident in your own birth experience interventions or not than you have no reason to be affected or offended by someone else’s.
What we are trying to do is prevent those experiences that are affecting mothers and babies, when they are medically unnecessary. All we are asking for is that women are respected through their births, after all it is their bodies who are birthing these babies, they deserve a little honour and respect. We are not saying women need to choose natural birth. What we are saying is that women need to be informed to choose whatever birth they feel is best for them, interventions or not.
Vaginal breech birth is not dangerous. What is dangerous is having the people who are supposed to be trained experts in dealing with variations from normal in birth not being trained to do so. What is dangerous to the lives and health of mothers and babies are providers who feel unnecessary interventions are preferred to a natural process that is inherently safer.
Some women will need cesarean’s and that is what they are there for, those who need it. Having a cesarean rate where at least 50% are unnecessary puts both mothers and babies at higher risk.
This is about putting babies first. What the mother feels is best for her baby over what a practitioner feels is convenient or their own personal preference. The mother is the authority in birth, no one else, she should be the ONE making all the choices for her body and her baby.
Kathryn Clarke is right. “You’re asking for their professional opinion and they’re giving it to you.” That does not mean you have to go along with it. It is an opinion that you will use to formulate your own decision. It is not a mandate that you have to follow. Unfortunately, many women are not told they have a choice and are being forced into interventions they know they don’t need.