Safe Birthing

I almost wept when I read this article in the SST about how some babies die because some midwives have an ideological objection to vaginal examinations during birthing.

I could do a rant about the wider politics of what has happened with maternity care – successive Governments have driven off thousands of GPs from maternity services so that only 30 GPs in NZ continue to provide maternity services. A tragedy – but a story for another day.

But let’s turn to the CEO of the College of Midwives who has said “Maori women found the checks particularly intrusive, as that part of their body was tapu”.

What politically correct horseshit. Before I rant on this further let me point out the correct attitude by a Hutt Valley mid-wife who treats all clients as individuals and has said “It’s so negotiable – We negotiate with each client and talk about the pros and cons.”

So anyway is the CEO of the College of Midwives saying that only Maori women find that part of their body as sacred? And non-Maori do not? Is she saying there is some objective research which has actually asked women, broken down by ethnicity, about what parts of their body they regard as tapu or sacred? Or is she just making it up?

Bearing in mind this is not an area that directly affects me (and no doubt some will decry that I dare to comment on the issue) I would suggest that pretty much all women, regardless of ethnicity, don’t care for examinations there, unless it is medically necessary.

So no-one misunderstands, I have no view at all on whether a mother should consent to such examinations as part of birth. I have a very strong view on the inappropriateness of a midwife not allowing a mother to make that decision because they have an ideological disagreement with it. And I have a strong view on the stupidity of making sweeping statements that (not some, or many, but presumably all) Maori women consider something tapu. I’d love to see the research backing up that statement.

UPDATE: This story is also worth reading.

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