Maternal health must be prioritised | Letter

A false dichotomy between ‘natural’ and safe birth deflects attention from the real cause of this crisis: years of government cuts, writes Sarah Davies

Having been a midwife for more than 40 years, I am shocked and saddened to read the catalogue of poor care and callous behaviour described in the Ockenden report. It is scandalous that it has taken a series of tragedies to focus attention on the dire state of English maternity services, and especially the greater risks for Black women (‘I was told they didn’t offer C-sections’ – the dangerous obsession with ‘natural births’, 14 April).

As your article says, all women must be listened to and have their wishes respected. Many women also opt for out-of-hospital births, but it is now commonplace for them to have to go into hospital to give birth, often at the last minute, due to no midwife being available.

This will not be the last report to uncover failings in maternity care; of 193 maternity services in England, 80 are rated as “inadequate” or “requires improvement” by the Care Quality Commission. Soundbite headlines fuelling a false dichotomy between “natural” and safe birth deflect attention from the real cause of this crisis: years of cuts and a failure to prioritise maternal health.
Sarah Davies

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