The obstetricians at Vincent Pallotti hospital have decided to no longer provide a back-up service for my practice. Apart from the loss of the medical back-up as a professional midwife, the greater loss is to mothers and women who are not able to choose this private hospital for medical back-up when they have chosen me as a professional midwife. No reasons for this withdrawal have been stated in their letter of notification.
I am formulating a response which I will send to the Obstetrical team at Vincent Pallotti Hospital in due course. I understand various perspectives which I shall summarize below:
Women and Mothers:
Many women are afraid of childbirth and the possible dangers it may present. These women are confident that to book with an obstetrician, and be promised the pain relief interventions such as an epidural, opiates, and/or other medical interventions, will meet their needs. Some women, though, intrinsically feel in the core of their bodies and souls, that to birth naturally is vitally important. To do this they need an attendant who can hold a safe space and is attuned to their physical, emotional and spiritual needs, someone who will both evaluate clinical progress while at the same time respond to the needs of a woman as her labour progresses to the actual birth. Birthing mothers need someone who knows their physiology well, who recognize nuanced changes in their bodies and who will monitor the unborn baby’s wellbeing. They also need someone who is quick off the mark, who will take charge when the situation demands, who can resuscitate a baby, who can safely transfer to hospital from home.
An obstetrician spends 13 years training to qualify first as a doctor then as a specialist obstetrician. The training occurs mostly in a tertiary level of care hospital where women with major complications of pregnancy are treated. Birth in these facilities is a carefully orchestrated and monitored affair to prevent the deaths of mothers and babies with severe conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, pre-eclampsia and eclampsia, multiple pregnancies. The obstetricians become skilled surgeons and clinicians adept at preventing harm and saving lives. When an obstetrician leaves the public service and serves in the private sector this training may colour his perspective notwithstanding that he is mostly assisting normal healthy pregnant women from higher socio-economic levels. He is also personally at risk of being held liable and being sued for any mishap that may occur.
A midwife is called to her profession by passion and a love of caring for other people, particularly women and their babies, from before conception to after the birth of their babies. A midwife in South Africa trains as a nurse first before her year of training as a midwife. In countries such as the United Kingdom and New Zealand a midwife trains directly for 3-4 years. A Midwife specializes in normal physiological/healthy pregnancy and natural birth. She guides a pregnant woman through her pregnancy by paying attention to all aspects of a woman’s health and wellbeing. A midwife is not equipped to provide ongoing medical care when complications arise and therefore works hand in hand with a doctor or an obstetrician. This ensures the safety of both mother and baby.
I present below a portfolio of pictures of mothers who birthed at Vincent Pallotti Hospital in my care or had homebirths backed up by obstetricians at Vincent Pallotti Hospital.
Appeal to Vincent Pallotti Hospital
If you would like to help in my appeal to Vincent Pallotti hospital, go to the Facebook group “Restore Sister Littlejohn’s Privileges at Vincent Pallotti Hospital” and write a letter or contact me via the page.