Expectant mums ‘bullied’ into nine-to-five births

 

QUEENSLAND women are being bullied into having Caesareans and induced labours between the hours of nine to five to suit hospital staffing levels and doctors' schedules.

Exclusively obtained data from Queensland Health confirms the peak time for babies' arrival in the state's public hospitals is in daylight hours.

Between July 2017 to June 2018 the most common time for a natural birth was in the hour between 1pm and 2pm while the peak time for C-sections was in the hour leading up to 9am.

One of the nation's leading maternity researchers says the pressure to have nine to five babies is becoming so commonplace that the natural evolution of women giving birth is being destroyed.

Sarina Davis, with her son Ari, 17 months, is six months pregnant with her second child. Picture: Steve Pohlner
Sarina Davis, with her son Ari, 17 months, is six months pregnant with her second child. Picture: Steve Pohlner

Hannah Dahlen, Professor of Midwifery and Higher Degree Research Director in the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Western Sydney University, said research showed that birth, if not interfered with, peaks in the early hours of the morning.

"Naturally, most women would labour and birth at night when melatonin is high as this synchronises with oxytocin and makes labour happen," Prof Dahlen said.

"Sadly births are not getting the chance to run their natural course and women are being made to fit in with the running of hospitals, with staffing levels and for staffing convenience. It is time to stop women having to fit with the institutions rather than being allowed to birth in a safe and healthy way."

9 to 5 birthing statistics
9 to 5 birthing statistics

Prof Dahlen, a leading researcher with an international reputation as a midwifery scholar, says there is ample evidence to show that inducing a birth is detrimental to the health of mother and babies. Induction can lead to infection, uterine rupture and increased risk of C-section.

A recent study from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare revealed the high level of labour inductions. Almost half of low risk women have their labour induced.

A spokesman for the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, which represents both public and private doctors, said the rising trend of intervention in Australia is consistent with the rest of the world, and intervention rates were influenced by obesity and increasing maternal age.

Sian Togyer with her three-year-old son Harrison. Sian believes her C-section birth was to fit in with hospital staffing. Picture: Steve Pohlner
Sian Togyer with her three-year-old son Harrison. Sian believes her C-section birth was to fit in with hospital staffing. Picture: Steve Pohlner

Sian Togyer, from Petrie, says her birthing dreams were crushed when she was booked in for a 9am C-section.

Baby Harrison arrived at 9.44am.

"There was bullying and scaremongering at the hospital. I just wasn't prepared for it and I felt powerless. I have always dreamt of a birth without interference, providing the baby would be safe.

"I don't believe there was a genuine reason for me to have a C-section but it was to fit in the running of the hospital. I was told that if an emergency section arrived that day then I would have to come back the next morning. It was clear they didn't want surgery to go into night time.

"The experience left me scarred and I have not felt ready to have another baby. When I do I will not go into the hospital system but will hire a private midwife to come to my home," she said.

Sarah Tallar is the mother of two boys who was admitted to hospital at 8.30 for an early induction for both children.

"I was given the impression that I was on a time limit and needed to have the baby before dinnertime," she said.

Queensland Health insists the scheduling of C-sections is done with the input of patients and decisions are made for safety not convenience.

QH says the most common time for C-sections in 2017/18 was 8am to 9am but the majority of surgeries stretch over an 18-hour period between noon and 6am.