Which? (and a rant about what choice is)(2 Posts)
A new website designed to help women make choices about where to give birth has been launched (today I think) by Which? in association with Birth Choice UK
Press release dated today here
The Which? Birth Choice site can be found here
Great I thought. It will be interesting to see what information there is on there and whether its informative and useful to all women.
It does have a lot of very interesting information, but my real bug about it all is that the human element is completely taken out of it.
Given that Which?'s remit is "All our research and campaigning is completely independent and funded by subscriptions." So what I do find intensely annoying is the lack of option to understand that someone may have reason not to have a VB whether medically indicated or not. I fully appreciate that this was put together in association with the RCM, but I do find the complete assumption that everyone will attempt a VB to not exactly be about choice - and hardly unbiased in this sense.
Again I appreciate its probably not really within Which?s remit (which is to look at stats only) but my point is more about the illusion of choice and how there is little thinking beyond statistics in what is influencing women and what is important in terms of choice. I think it just highlights the assumption that how and where you choose to give birth is like buying and choosing your next car. It really, really shouldn't be.
After looking at the endless threads in this section, its pretty clear that a lot of these statistics are really unimportant to women. Hardly anyone on MN asks about whether X hospital will have X facility - this data is already out there, and I'm not sure that Which? really has anything new to offer to women. Threads about anecdotal experiences are far more important.
The pattern of threads seems to be more about 'real' choices about birth. Not whether an epidural is available on site, but whether you will actually get one if you ask for one. Whether if you have had a CS before whether you will have the choice to go for a VBAC or be encouraged for an ELCS. Etc, etc.
The stats are telling us so much, but they aren't really about choice and I get really frustrated when this data is being presented in a way to suggest this is all we need to know. I'm really not convinced that a lot of the information we have is what is really important to women and really about choice. They don't say whether choices are being delivered - eg How many women request a pool, and how many actually get it (whether because the facilities are busy or because they are advised not to for medical reasons).
And maybe what we need greater public transparency over certain hospital policies (albeit with a disclaimer that under certain circumstances exceptions may be made). For example, whether the hospital has a goal to decrease its CS rate, whether there are blanket bans on ELCS, when they usually book in for induction, whether they are encouraging VBACs etc etc.
I dunno. I guess I've looked at the site and its made me think a lot more about the difference between what others think are important and what women actually feel is important. It being Which? has really focused my mind about the mentality of the 'commercial' over the 'emotional' angle of decision making.
You make a really good point. Having experienced NHS care, for example, I don't give a flying fart what facilities they offer, what I want is a midwife who I know and who knows me and as far as I can tell there is only one way to guarantee that and that's to hire an independent midwife.
Birth is not (only) a medical decision. It is emotional and personal and every time those elements are excised from the experience a great disservice is being done to birthing women, their babies, their partners and their families as a whole.
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