Sunday, November 16, 2008

Women rallying across Australia for 1-2-1 midwifery care and The Age misses the point!

Women rallied across Australia today in support of 1-2-1 midwifery care in the wake of the close of submissions to the National Maternity Services Review.

The Age newspaper runs a story with the headline "Huge rise in obese mums-to-be"
Jill Stark November 16, 2008

The article says

"A RISE in the number of obese women becoming pregnant has sparked calls for more vigilant monitoring and weighing of expectant mothers, amid fears babies' lives are being put at risk.

Specialists at leading Melbourne hospitals have told The Sunday Age that women with pre-pregnancy weights of 150 kilograms or more are increasingly common, with some then adding up to 30 kilograms before giving birth — around three times the recommended weight gain of 7 kilograms to 12 kilograms.

The mothers' excess fat is posing serious challenges for medical staff, who are struggling to detect babies on ultrasound machines and monitor their heart rates. Many of the women suffer obesity-related diabetes and high blood pressure, with their size tripling their babies' risk of sudden death or birth defects.

Pregnancies for very large women are considered so risky that most hospitals are turning away expectant mothers with a body mass index higher than 35 or 40. A healthy BMI is 20 to 25."

That's all true of course and worthy of concern. However, two things are of interest here. One is that this story was run when, on the same day, there was a women led rally for better maternity care options. This article could be seen as an effort to keep women in their place and interestingly, the article was written by a woman!

The other interesting and not mentioned fact is that circulating and unremitting levels of stress hormones are part of the problem in the obesity epidemic. Stress hormones interfere with healthy physiology and disrupt growth and repair mechanisms. This means that women are more likely to become fatter as high stress hormone levels interfere with glucose and insulin pathways.

Pregnant women and their babies are vulnerable to the stress caused by ever increasing social pressures. When childbearing women feel loved and cared for, and are able to talk with their midwife about the things that are bothering them, their stress hormones are lower, they feel more in control with what happens to them and their clinical outcomes are improved.

One to one midwifery care, where the focus is on the woman and her needs and wants, has far ranging health and wellbeing benefits for mothers and babies.

Thank goodness Nicola Roxon appears to be listening to good science, rather than scare mongering, power plays and sensationalism.

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