Friday, April 15, 2011

Concern Over "The Big Push" in Liverpool

The Liverpool Echo has reported on "a £10m vision to transform maternity care on Merseyside", with Liverpool Women’s Hospital in Toxteth calling it “The Big Push”.

According to the report, "Trish Dunmore, general manager for maternity at the Women’s, said: “The Big Push is about reviewing our model of maternity care to make the best use of our resources and to give a better quality of service to mum’s”."

My Concern

Apparently, "women who have had a caesarean section can now access a special clinic which will help they weigh up the benefits and risks to delivering naturally."

I could be wrong (and clearly have no evidence of this), but given what I already know about the way risks and benefits of primary planned cesarean birth (versus planned vaginal delivery) are presented to women, I am concerned that this clinic might 'push' women down the VBAC route.

I trust that this will not be the case, and maybe it's just the English Literature graduate in me, but I still can't help thinking how unbiased an information clinic might appear if it was borne of an initiative called "The Big Slice"...?

The Big Irony

Just two days earlier, another Liverpool Echo report told the story of a mother who gave birth to a "giant baby girl weighing 12lb 5oz", which the mother describes as "painful towards the end, she got stuck and they had to get help".

Nothing shocking about that you might think. But then you read on:

"Staff said Darcy was a very lucky baby, because she had already taken all the nutrients from the placenta and may not have survived if the labour had come any later."

So what thankfully turned out to be an interesting little news story - with the accompanying picture of smiling mum and baby - could have been an entirely different news story altogether... and one likely to have included quotes from their lawyer.

Bigger mothers, Bigger Babies - A Bigger Push?

I've written about this many times on this blog and on my website, but the fact is that pregnant women are getting heavier and older, while their babies are getting bigger. This is causing a well-documented challenge in obstetrics.

And yet so many professionals seem to think that the solution to this maternity crisis is simply to increase numbers of midwives and reduce cesarean deliveries. Maybe you're not concerned that maternity hospitals around Britain are in danger of sailing too close to the wind - and potentially putting the lives of women and babies at risk - in their efforts to reduce cesarean rates, but I am.

Yes, I want perfectly healthy pregnant women to have access to a prophylactic cesarean birth plan if that is their informed decision, but I'm just as concerned about women who have no such preference but who may be being misinformed about the true risks and benefits of different birth plans, and pushed in entirely the wrong direction.

Incidentally, last October, the Liverpool Echo also reported on the "Huge rise in Liverpool obesity rates". It said that the "amount of obese people in Liverpool rocketed during the past year [the fifth highest increase in England]", rising to 45,843 adults.

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