Deciding where to have their baby is one of the biggest decisions a mother has to make before they give birth.
Home, or natural midwifery-led births may have been considered risky by some in the past, with many women opting to go to hospital to be safe in the knowledge of consultant-led care and emergency back-up.
However, new evidence announced by health advisory body the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) now suggests midwifery-led care is safer than hospital care for women who are considered to be “low risk”.
Experts say this is because the rate of interventions, such as an epidural or use of forceps, is lower and the outcome for the baby is no different in midwifery-led care to being born in a hospital setting, where consultants are present.
As specialists in medical negligence and personal injury, we at Neil Hudgell Solicitors too often see cases where women have agreed to interventions during labour because they are told it’s the best thing for them and their baby.
In this situation, some women don’t feel confident enough to voice their wishes, meaning unnecessary interventions, such as a caesarean section, which can cause unnecessary scarring and longer recovery, may be recommended and implemented by a doctor to speed things up.
This can also include a forceps delivery, for example, which could cause unnecessary tears.
Intervention is not always necessary and can leave scars on both the mother and baby, it can prolong the recovery period and also cause psychological effects when mothers are not able to hold and bond with their baby immediately due to needing further medical attention.
We see lot of cases of this nature, and we fully believe women should be able to make the choice, as the more surgical intervention, the greater the risk of injury, such as nerve damage from an unnecessary epidural for example.
Decisions to intervene can sometimes be taken for the wrong reasons, perhaps if the labour ward is very busy at the time and pressure is increasing on the midwifery team, or when a mother becomes distressed, or the labour goes on longer than expected.
Today’s advice is interesting and will provoke many conversations about choices surrounding labour and where to give birth.
Most women who suffer injury as a result of medical intervention, following advice given to them during their labour, just get on with the injuries they are left with. This evidence shows that a fair proportion of those injuries could have been avoided.
Women should be allowed a choice and intervention should not be implemented unless it is absolutely necessary.