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Around 85% of Australian women have a repeat caesarean, but it’s often not necessary. Kati Molin/Shutterstock

Explainer: vaginal birth after caesarean

We've come a long way from the first documented successful caesarean. In 1500, Swiss farmer Jacob Nufer operated on his wife after a labour of several days. She went on to have five more vaginal births.
Cerebral palsy can involve skeletal deformities, muscle stiffness or weakness and uncontrolled movements. arindambanerjee/Shutterstock

Explainer: what causes cerebral palsy and can it be prevented?

The single diagnosis of cerebral palsy covers a wide range of conditions with many different contributing factors that interact in varying ways.
Awareness campaigns encourage perfectionism and unwarranted personal responsibility for events over which new mums may have little control. Pablo Rogat

Fear-based health information makes new mothers anxious

Fear-based messages from practitioners and awareness campaigns encourage perfectionism and unwarranted personal responsibility for events over which new mums may have little control.
During the first few minutes after birth a baby can receive 80-100 millilitres of blood – nearly a third of their blood volume. Paul Hakimata Photography/Shutterstock

Delay clamping babies' umbilical cords for better health and development

One of the most common surgical procedures undertaken in the world today – one that every human alive has undergone – is the clamping and cutting of the umbilical cord at birth.
The placenta plays a critical role in pregnancy, fetal development and health throughout life. Remy Sharp/Flickr

Explainer: what is placenta?

An incredibly complex and important organ in its own right, the placenta is only found in mammals. And how it functions has the potential to have profound effects on the lifelong health of the developing foetus.
Episiotomies have a place in maternity care but should not be routinely performed. Paul Curto/Flickr

Episiotomy during childbirth: not just a ‘little snip’

It’s difficult to imagine how something as big as a baby’s head can come out of what appears to be a relatively small space. But during childbirth, the perineum – the area of skin and muscle between the…
Inuit women carrying their kids in traditional hooded parkas. Indigenous midwifery programs have expanded across Canada and are linked to excellent health outcomes. Spencer/Flickr

Birthing on Country could deliver healthier babies and communities

Tony Abbott spent most of this week in North East Arnhem Land, part of his long-held hope “to be not just the Prime Minister but the Prime Minister for Aboriginal Affairs”. In the final of our Abbott in…
Women report that the birth environment is a key factor in how easy or hard it is to give birth. Image from

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. Image from

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. 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. 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…

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