Tuesday, 21 September 2021

Mothers join silent protest over midwives

THREE mothers from Henley took part in a demonstration in London this week calling for protection of independent midwifery.

THREE mothers from Henley took part in a demonstration in London this week calling for protection of independent midwifery.

Emma Taylor, Sarah Cuzen and Antonia Moss joined women from across the country in Monday’s silent protest in Westminster as part of the Choose Your Midwife, Choose Your Birth campaign.

They also met Henley MP John Howell to discuss their concerns about the future of Independent Midwives UK, which cares for women who are deemed “high risk” and have been refused home births or natural births by the NHS.

From October independent midwives will not be allowed to practise outside the health service because of an inability to secure commercial insurance.

Mrs Taylor, of Western Avenue, Henley, gave birth to her daughter Lilia at home in July 2009.

But the 38-year-old would be unlikely to be allowed another “textbook natural home birth” because she has been diagnosed with a blood-clotting condition.

Mrs Moss, of Belle Vue Road, has one son, Hugo, eight months, who was born at home while Ms Cuzen is a doula, a non-medical person who assists a woman before, during or after childbirth.

Mrs Taylor said: “The protest was well attended, especially considering the freezing weather and the fact that many women who would have loved to be there were at home, looking after their families. I was contacted a number of Henley mums who all said they would be with us in spirit and we all three of us felt that we were representing not only ourselves but also those women of Henley who were not able to get to the protest themselves. It was an honour and privilege to be able to attend on behalf of those women.

“We talked to John Howell about the importance of women’s rights not being eroded and of the UK not following in the footsteps of the US, where in some states midwives and home births are illegal.

“John was very interested and said he would think about what we’d said. We are hopeful that the Government will pay attention to the voices of all who took part in the protest, whether by attending or signing the online petition, and save an important element in maternity care for women in this country.

“Sarah, Antonia and I are not seasoned campaigners — we don’t regularly march on Westminster — but we each felt that this issue was so important it was vital to make a stand and have our voices counted among those calling for change.

“It would be great if people in Henley and the surrounding area would get behind the campaign and add their signatures, as many Henley people already have done.” Mrs Moss’s son was delivered by Liz Nightingale, a family friend and independent midwife.

The former Leander and Great Britain rower said: “I’ve never felt compelled to march about anything but this feels too important not to have stood up and be counted.

“It is about protecting a woman’s right to birth her baby in the best way for her and her child and protecting normal, natural childbirth in an age where unnecessary intervention is the norm.

“I didn’t have a particularly easy birth but Liz’s skill, calm, quiet confidence, passion and care meant that I avoided a raft of unnecessary interventions that would have occurred had I chosen a hospital delivery. I felt empowered as a woman, having come from international sport where power was measured in other terms.

“Hugo came into the world on our bed at home and, once we were all sorted out, we all sat around drinking tea and eating the cake I had baked during my labour.”

Mr Howell said: “The main issue revolves around the ability to get insurance at a reasonable cost.

“This all comes from an EU directive to insist on insurance for all health workers and I have been in correspondence with the Association of British Insurers to explore the possibilities. It was useful to meet up with the women.”

To sign the petition, visit http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/44382

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