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Analysis and Comment (29)

Women report that the birth environment is a key factor in how easy or hard it is to give birth. Women report that the birth environment is a key factor in how easy or hard it is to give birth. Image from shutterstock.com

Babies, not burgers: why we need better-designed labour wards

I recently visited a new McDonald’s outlet on the northern fringes of Sydney. What I found inside left me gawping in astonishment: soft lighting, views of nature, a mixture of private and communal spaces…
Only a handful of Australian hospitals offer continuity of care and midwives on call. Only a handful of Australian hospitals offer continuity of care and midwives on call. Image from shutterstock.com

Call the Midwife: playing catch up with Australia’s maternity care

In the much-loved British TV drama Call the Midwife, women are offered care from dedicated midwives through pregnancy, labour and birth. The midwives are therefore able to get to know the women and practice…
Midwives can deliver many of the interventions needed to address maternal and newborn health problems. Midwives can deliver many of the interventions needed to address maternal and newborn health problems. Flickr/eGuide Travel

Meeting goals for improved maternal health in Myanmar

As a regional neighbour to Myanmar, the Commonwealth government has recognised Australia has a responsibility – and the capacity – to help alleviate poverty in the developing nation. Australia is also…
It can take some time for women to come to terms with the conceptual as well as physical change of giving birth. It can take some time for women to come to terms with the conceptual as well as physical change of giving birth. Remy Sharp

One body becoming two: how women experience childbirth

There is a substantial literature on labour and childbirth in medical, midwifery and social scientific research. But we still don’t know much about how labouring women experience that pivotal time when…
BBC’s The White Queen set to feature 15th Century birth scene, when female midwives were the norm. BBC’s The White Queen set to feature 15th Century birth scene, when female midwives were the norm. BBC

Drunken midwives and snooty surgeons: a short history of giving birth

The history of childbirth and midwifery has seen some dramatic changes, not only in new medical discoveries that vastly improved the safety of both mother and baby but also in social trends and the way…
With inadequate resources, it’s as difficult to deliver choice as babies. With inadequate resources, it’s as difficult to deliver choice as babies. Flickr: David Swift Photography

50 years on, we’re still fighting for women’s childbirth rights

For decades there has been a struggle between those arguing for women’s wishes to come first when it comes to childbirth and those who believe that a healthy baby is the only important consideration…
Many hospitals are carrying out caesareans before 39 weeks despite official guidelines. Many hospitals are carrying out caesareans before 39 weeks despite official guidelines. Wikimedia Commons/Mediajet

We’ve become blind to the risks of having babies by caesearean

Hospitals provide much-needed medical care and treatment for women who run into difficulty in childbirth. But many women and babies have medical intervention and treatment without good reason. We’ve become…
Research has shown benefits to mothers and babies when fathers are involved. Research has shown benefits to mothers and babies when fathers are involved. Pixabay

Some pregnant women missing benefits from involved dads

We all have different expectations about how involved dads should be during pregnancy and childbirth. In the UK, it’s generally seen as a good thing and research is now beginning to show that it matters…
Upright births are likely to be shorter, less painful and involve fewer interventions than recumbent births. Upright births are likely to be shorter, less painful and involve fewer interventions than recumbent births. Image from shutterstock.com

Stand and deliver – upright births best for mum and bub

Think of childbirth and you’re likely to picture a woman lying on her back on a hospital bed. That’s the position most (78%) Australian women adopt to give birth birth, despite growing evidence that being…
Emotional health problems after childbirth are burdonsome and common. Emotional health problems after childbirth are burdonsome and common. storyvillegirl/flickr

Mothers need better care to reduce post-traumatic stress after childbirth

Post-traumatic stress can result from life-threatening events such as military combat, violent assault or natural disasters. Women who feared that they or their baby would die or be seriously damaged during…
One in three Australian babies are born by caesarean – but we still don’t know the lifetime effects on the offspring. One in three Australian babies are born by caesarean – but we still don’t know the lifetime effects on the offspring. Image from shutterstock.com

Can caesarean sections increase susceptibility to disease?

Despite efforts to reduce intervention rates during labour, vaginal births without medical intervention are becoming increasingly rare in Australia and overseas: nearly one in three women in Australian…
You may not forget the pain, but if you’re lucky, the end will justify the means. You may not forget the pain, but if you’re lucky, the end will justify the means. Image from shutterstock.com

Monday’s medical myth: women forget the pain of childbirth

In an evolutionary sense, memory of pain serves an important purpose. Pain indicates a threat to our safety or our life, and human survival depends on us avoiding things that are going to kill us. Historically…
There has been very little scientific evidence so far to support sex as a method of inducing labour. There has been very little scientific evidence so far to support sex as a method of inducing labour. Image from shutterstock.com

Monday’s medical myth: sex induces labour

Sex. It’s what got you into pregnancy, but is it also the pathway to getting you out? Around a quarter of all Australian pregnancies are medically induced, with a third of those inductions occurring due…
Private health insurance policies have played a crucial role in the rising rate of caesarean births. Private health insurance policies have played a crucial role in the rising rate of caesarean births. Chimpr

Private hospitals, health insurance and the rise of caesarean births

The proportion of women who give birth by caesarean has risen dramatically in the developed world over the past few decades, with rates in Australia almost doubling, from 18% in 1991 to 31% in 2008. Until…
Women can move more easily in water, enabling them to change position with ease. Women can move more easily in water, enabling them to change position with ease. Flickr/kTLindSAy

Monday’s medical myth: water births are risky

“Women aren’t dolphins” is a phrase often bandied about by those who question why women want to immerse themselves in pools or warm baths during labour and birth. They forget that we’re not mountain goats…
Little is known about pelvic organ prolapse because its symptoms are incredibly embarrassing for women. Little is known about pelvic organ prolapse because its symptoms are incredibly embarrassing for women. Meghana Kulkarni

Explainer: what is pelvic organ prolapse?

Millions of Australian women experience a pelvic organ prolapse, but they suffer in silence. This hidden epidemic is a well-kept secret and few people in the rest of the community know anything about the…
The perceived dangers of home birth are overstated. The perceived dangers of home birth are overstated. krzyboy2o

Home birth is a viable and safe option for most women

In response to a recent South Australian coroner’s finding that three babies died from preventable causes, Health Minister Tanya Plibersek has said she will close a loophole in national health laws that…
Women and men are portrayed as equally infantile in the film. Women and men are portrayed as equally infantile in the film. Roadshow Films

Don’t expect much from What to Expect When You’re Expecting

What to Expect When You’re Expecting is basically a 1980s frat film, complete with busty girls in bikinis, golf buggies crashing into swimming pools, and vomit and fart jokes – all window dressed with…
Home birth isn’t going away – and time is running out to solve the insurance dilemma. Home birth isn’t going away – and time is running out to solve the insurance dilemma. Flickr/hubeRsen

Pushing home birth underground raises safety concerns

Women have the right to determine what happens to their bodies; and this includes where and how they give birth. But from July 2013, private midwives may not be able to legally provide their services to…
Rates of stillbirth have fallen in rich countries but are now reaching a plateau. Rates of stillbirth have fallen in rich countries but are now reaching a plateau. flickr/Trevor Blair

Reducing the heartbreak and burden of stillbirth

Stillbirth is a major but under-researched public health problem affecting three million families each year. Following the 2011 Lancet Stillbirth Series, it has been receiving more attention, and a recent…
Home births for high-risk pregnancies and where a registered midwife isn’t present are risky. Home births for high-risk pregnancies and where a registered midwife isn’t present are risky. Deannster

For some women, unassisted home births are worth the risks

We live in a world with many different perspectives on risk. Entire professions now exist to advise us on how to recognise, avoid and manage risk. And the maternity and obstetric professions are no different…
Overly optimistic expectations about the birthing process may taint the experience for many women. Overly optimistic expectations about the birthing process may taint the experience for many women. Muus Creation/Flickr

Great expectations: mothers too optimistic about birth intervention

Many women believe they’re likely to go through labour and give birth without medical intervention. But data from Victoria shows that, more often than not, labour does require intervention. The disconnect…
Only half of all Qld women who chose to give birth by caesarean made an informed decision. Only half of all Qld women who chose to give birth by caesarean made an informed decision. Sean Dreilinger

Forget ‘too posh to push’ – doctors are behind the rise in c-sections

The proportion of Queensland women giving birth via caesarean section has increased by a staggering 74% in the past 20 years. This wouldn’t be of concern if more babies' lives were saved as a result but…
The frequently cited Netherlands study doesn’t show it’s safe to give birth at home in Australia. The frequently cited Netherlands study doesn’t show it’s safe to give birth at home in Australia. Assy

Thinking about giving birth at home? Look at the evidence on safety

We’re fortunate to live in a society where robust evidence forms the basis of the information health-care professionals provide to patients – and home birth should be no exception. But the evidence about…
Social realities have a bigger impact on when women have babies than “medical facts”. Social realities have a bigger impact on when women have babies than “medical facts”. ECohen

Are older women selfish for having babies?

It seems we have a new “barbecue stopper” about women and families, after comments last week by Perth obstetrician Barry Walters that it is selfish for older women to have babies. Defending himself from…
More women are opting for caesareans but what are the risks? More women are opting for caesareans but what are the risks? Rowan Simpson

Not just too posh to push: elective caesareans vs vaginal births

In Australia, as in most of the developed world, about one baby in three is now delivered by caesarean section. To put things in perspective, the rate of caesarean birth has almost doubled over the past…
Quality and safety in childbirth should not be equated with obstetric care. Quality and safety in childbirth should not be equated with obstetric care. AAP

Is ‘tribal’ obstetric culture endangering mothers and babies?

How we are born, who supports mothers and the quality of the care provided during birth are vital to good public health and personal well being. But all is not well in modern birthing in spite of the advances…

Research and News (8)

Research Briefs (6)

Birth weight linked to mental health

Premature or low birth weight babies are more likely to suffer from anxiety and mood disorders later in life, according to…