Are we free?

Canberra Rally v.2.0 25 June 2015


I acknowledge that we meet today on the land of the Ngunnawal people whose land was never ceded. I pay tribute to their elders, past and present, and elders from all over Australia who are present. And to the women who birthed on this country.

I have such rage. I have gut curdling, disgusted, appalled rage, Everywhere I look, women are ignored, brutalised, violated, raped and murdered. Our voices are silenced by those who assume power over us. Our lives are shrunk by the misogyny which is the life blood of the western world. We are denied innate rights men take for granted. We are encouraged to starve, pluck, wax and punish our bodies for the sin of being female. We are used by corporations to sell their products. We are used, by industries of all kinds, which seek to profit from selling us inadequacy and in some places, selling the products of our bodies.

In Australia, we are told we are free. We have the vote, we talk about equal pay, we once had a prime minister who happened to be a woman. And yet is it freedom when the very basic biological functions of our bodies are controlled by law? By custom? By a society which treats us as if our very presence is unwelcome and toxic?

Are we free when we find ourselves pregnant and yet cannot access services supporting termination? Are we free when abortion is still a crime in most Australian states? Are we free when protesters form a cordon around health services and a security guard is murdered for working in an abortion clinic?

Are we free when we are forced onto buses to travel thousands of kilometres to hospitals where our language and culture are obliterated? When birthing on the country of our grandmothers is denied us? When our children are removed in greater numbers than ever and greater even than during the time of the Stolen Generations? When our children die in watch houses and are imprisoned for pilfering lollies?

Are we free when we would choose abortion over birth because the living conditions in Australia’s offshore storage camps are so foul and dangerous we cannot imagine bringing new life into them? When rapists work on in the camps but babies are removed from their mothers and denied citizenship?

Are we free when having chosen to continue a pregnancy, our every move is dictated by poorly evidenced but profitable ritualised interventions? Are we free when presented with the dead baby card in order to coerce a farcical consent?

Are we free when our caesarean rate has continued to increase, even since 2009, and the only models of care in which normal birth occurs are curtailed and becoming impossible to access?

When women who still choose to birth at home are punished for stillbirth in a way which would never happen in hospitals?

Are we free when women’s deaths in maternity hospitals go unnoticed and unremarked in the media? When statistics are not kept, or kept poorly, when states and territories cannot agree a definition of maternal death, much less a transparent and fearless approach to lowering the rates of women’s deaths?

Are we free when suicide is one of the biggest causes of death for Australian mothers?

Are we free when the medical professions closes ranks around the Graeme Reeves in their midst rather than speak out about women being mutilated?

When women cannot take assault in hospitals to the law because we are culturally perceived as incubators and good mothers are in a state of perpetual consent and careproviders are allowed to touch our bodies regardless of our wishes?

Are we free when the few midwives who serve women, ahead of the state, are slowly picked off by unethical and immoral use of coronial processes?

Are we free when a hospital in Wagga can employ a dangerous drug for off label use, which results in the deaths and injuries of babies and women, and yet the media is silent and there is no inquest nor public notice of reparations?

Are we free when a woman can have antibacterial fluid injected into her spine and no public outcry ensues?

Are we free when a Melbourne hospital can end the lives of two babies and be given a free pass with no public accountability?

And yet, I am often called an angry woman, as if that were not a reasonable response to the wholesale violation of my sisters? What is aberrant is not my rage but that so few of us are enraged. We are so bent under the yoke of social disapproval, simply by virtue of failing to be men, that most of us fear to stand tall and to speak out because we fear the punishment which will ensue.

But here’s the thing: we are already being punished. There is no greater punishment than the removal of our legal and cultural personhood, so what do we have to lose? As human beings we have innate rights. We have the right to choose what we do with our bodies. At law, we are supported in this, regardless of pregnancy. At law, we remain people throughout our life cycles. What we struggle against, is the invisible culture in which we are stripped of these rights.

Why can we not demand criminal charges be laid against those who assault us when we birth? Once we could not lay charges against men if they raped us while a marriage contract was in place. And even though that is still difficult, it is largely recognised that a marriage contract does not place women in a state of perpetual consent.

In fact, all human beings exist in a state of perpetual non-consent unless otherwise indicated.

We do not have to say no, we have to be seen to say yes.

[If your home is burgled, the existence of a front door is not seen as consent. Your home is seen as existing in the normal legal state of assumed non-consent unless otherwise indicated. But even with the door thrown wide open, we assume no consent for passers by to make off with our household items. Women’s bodies however are not accorded the basic courtesy extended to our homes and men’s bodies.

There could not be, for instance, a clearer indication of legal and social recognition, that men exist in a state of non-consent, than the response to men sometimes punching one another in the face in public.

While no one could argue that punching someone in the face leading to serious injury or death is other than abhorrent, is this not already covered by existing laws?

Do we really need special laws which protect men from the habits of their fellows? Why can two women a week be murdered, largely by men, and minimal legislative and cultural change be sought? Because we are not full citizens. Because we are not fully human. Because we are not full citizens. Because we are not full people and men are important citizens who must be protected, even when it’s protection from each other.

It is well documented that men’s violence increases, and can begin, during pregnancy. Women are not uncommonly murdered by current, or previous partners, when pregnant or newly birthed. The dubious ‘privilege’ conferred by motherhood could not be more clearly demonstrated by that.]

But really, would there be a clearer statement of contempt towards us, than a man with a record of violent behaviour and proud misogynist beliefs, being named the minister in government to deal with us? Where is the Minister for Women today?

In the face of outright hatred towards us, how are we to respond? While the rage I feel is massive, my overwhelming response to this violence is to love each of us fiercely. To love ourselves in this patriarchy is to commit an unpardonable sin. To love our sisters in this patriarchy, is a monumental act of love and courage. The courage of women to put one foot in front of the other, day after day, never fails to take my breath away.

Our rights based feminist movement, to see women recognised as citizens with innate rights, must be fuelled by love and a dedication to movement before politics, the mass before the individual, love of self and love of sisterhood. We are a damaged community and we struggle to come together while many of us still fear to gather, to organise and to identify with women as a class. Those who would work with us must stop speaking the rhetoric of meaningless choice. They must move away from professional aggrandisement and towards supporting women’s autonomy because from that flows all else.

When women are recognised as the sole decision makers in our lives then our birthing will be supported in ways which nourish us. The false promise of paternalistic careproviders that they can rescue us from our biology must cease and we must refuse to have truck with toxic culture. We must withdraw our legitimising presence from institutions and individual careproviders which do not serve us but instead serve their need for power and control.

We must look to the law for that which serves us and recognises our humanity and we must demand the right to autonomy which is denied us.

[We must critique each new regulation of midwives to see if all women are served by it, regardless of the shiny wrapping and label, which accompany those actions.

We must cease to support those who throw all women under the bus by painting some of us as selfish and unnatural. While one woman is oppressed, so are we all.]

And we must always remember that women alone own birth, and only women should make the decisions in our lives to bear children or to not bear children but to always live in the full exercise of our power.

No Virginia, abortion isn’t legal in Australia

“For years, women in Queensland have been assured that the anti-abortion laws were a ‘dead letter’ – that they would never be used. Now a young woman and her partner are facing trial under these laws and facing the prospect of years in prison.”

We just kid ourselves that it is.

Cairns abortion case trial date set:
Pro-choice supporters plan national protest

Pro-choice supporters are gearing up for a national day of protest on the Saturday before the Cairns abortion case goes to trial. The trial has been set down for October 12.

Rallies will be held across the country on October 9 to demand the dropping of the charges brought under Queensland’s anti-abortion laws against a couple in Cairns.

“When a woman and her partner are facing trial under the abortion laws, it is time to take action”, said Pro-Choice Action Collective activist, Kathy Newnam.

“The Bligh government have tried to distract attention from the facts of the case by claiming that the charges are related to the way the abortion took place. This is a lie. The charges that the couple are facing have been brought under the anti-abortion laws.

“For years, women in Queensland have been assured that the anti-abortion laws were a ‘dead letter’ – that they would never be used. Now a young woman and her partner are facing trial under these laws and facing the prospect of years in prison.

“These charges should not have been brought in the first place because the laws should not exist. Abortion is a woman’s right to choose. It should not be a crime.

“This case threatens to set a dangerous new precedent on the abortion laws and supporters of abortion rights are determined to build a campaign that the Bligh government cannot ignore.

“We will not stand by silently while a young woman and her partner face trial under these rotten laws. Around the country, supporters of abortion rights will rally to demand the dropping of the charges.

“We will send the message loud and clear right across the country that we will not stand back while our rights are taken away. This case has already had a massive impact on the lives of one young couple — but if the charges are upheld, it has the potential to destroy many more lives as it emboldens the anti-abortion forces. Pro-choice supporters will not let that happen.

“On October 9, we will take to the streets to demand free, safe, accessible abortion on demand in such a show of force that the government will no longer be able to ignore our demands – drop the abortion charges, repeal the anti-abortion laws”.

A planning meeting will be held on Monday July 26 to mobilise support for the national day of action.

Pro-Choice Action Collective planning meeting:
Monday July 26, 6:30pm. TLC Building (2nd Floor),
16 Peel St, South Brisbane. Phone: 0400 720 757.

Opening your window to birth

Birth, she is dying.

This primal and unspeakably powerful initiation, the only road to motherhood for our ancestors, has been stripped of her dignity and purpose in our times. Birth has become a dangerous medical disease to be treated with escalating levels, and types, of technological interventions.

Healing birth, healing the earth (1996)

So am I a hero or a martyr? I am neither and none of us are. We all just do the best we can at the time. And as I write this, with my beautiful baby sleeping peacefully next to me, I am acutely aware that it is not the process that brought her here that really matters. It’s just that she is here.

Drug free childbirth (2010)

Would you say the same about your baby’s conception, Amity?

Does it matter if babies are conceived consensually in love whether in a bed or via a petrie dish, or by pack rape in a public space? Once the wedding day is past, do not the couple remember it for life? Do not those who are unable to marry because of prejudice remember other weddings with pain? Could it not colour the way a marriage begins if the couple are terrified, powerless, desperate and injured the day of the wedding?

Why are we so eager to excuse away violence during birth as if it is of no importance to babies or women?

Does it not support further brutalisation in our society when our very entry to the world is in violent circumstances?

MORPHEUS: Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself.

Morpheus holds out a red pill in one hand and a blue in the other.

MORPHEUS: This is your last chance. After this, there is no going back.You take the blue pill and the story ends. You wake in your bed and you believe whatever you want to believe.

The pills in his open hands are reflected in the glasses.

MORPHEUS: You take the red pill and you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.

Neo reaches for a pill but stops as MORPHEUS breaks the silence.

MORPHEUS: Remember, all I am offering you is the truth. Nothing more.

Neo opens his mouth and swallows the red pill.

MORPHEUS: Follow me.

THE MATRIX Written by Larry and Andy Wachowski April 8, 1996

I sat in a bus the other day. It was rainy, foggy, cold. Condensation sat on my side of the window while grime and rain merged on the outside creating distortions in what I could see. I squinted, moved my head, trying to read a sign in the distance but couldn’t bring it into focus. Finally I realised, “Open the window!” I dragged the sticky small window back from in front of my face and saw clearly the sign that had been obscured by so much hampering my normal vision. As I blinked with relief, my eyes adjusting to the clean light and cool air after the fug of the bus I realised what a powerful metaphor had just been enacted.

Birth is that sign out the window. Our task as parents is to notice that which obscures the view but ultimately to throw open that window and let nothing stand in the way of us embracing normal birth.Take the red pill and make yourself open to the possibility that what you once thought was true may not be.

Do you remember having faced similar challenges over other important decisions in your life? Did you consult only with those by whom the service is provided and who make money from the service? Or did you ask around widely to seek opinions from those outside of the realm of those being paid to provide the service? Did you research buying a car or a house for some time? Make yourself familiar with the features and models of each car, the ways in which dealers work, the impact on the environment and your family of the car you choose?

Then ask yourself this:

What you could do differently in learning about birth before your babies are born?

The real birth wars

The “quality and safety framework” has been released. My response looks like this:

International day of the midwife May 5

Wheel of Ancestral Hands: "The Midwife". Lauren Raine

You are a midwife, assisting at someone else’s birth. Do good without show or fuss.
Facilitate what is happening rather than what you think ought to be happening.
If you must take the lead, lead so that the mother is helped, yet still free and in charge.
When the baby is born, the mother will rightly say: “I did it myself!”
from The Tao Te Ching

Thank you to the truly with woman midwives who walk alongside us as comrades in the struggle. Our thoughts are with you every day and especially today.

Try us on Wibiya!

Weasel words revealed by the government

All birthing women are equal but some are more equal than others.

In a nicely Orwellian turn of phrase where we’re assured that our choices are being expanded, the government deigned to share some of their maternity “care” plans with us. Finally. The AMA’s choices are sure being expanded but those of birthing women have been reduced to “When? How high?”.

Luckily for me, Lisa Barrett has already written about this so enjoy.

This is what it looks like when human rights vanish. It’s not a big revolution, or a violent attack, it’s just a sinister set of back door dealings between powerful groups in order to trash the basic human rights of women. Scary huh? You could be next.

Look out.

Risks of Caesarean Section – a CIMS information sheet

The Risks of Cesarean Section

A Coalition for Improving Maternity Services Fact Sheet
© 2010 Coalition for Improving Maternity Services. Permission granted to freely reproduce with attribution.
1500 Sunday Dr Ste 102, Raleigh, NC 27607 | Tel: 919-863-9482 |

Cesarean section is the most common major surgical procedure performed in the United States. The Coalition for Improving Maternity Services (CIMS) is concerned about the dramatic increase and ongoing overuse of cesarean section. The surgical procedure poses short- and long-term health risks to mothers and infants, and a scarred uterus poses risks to all future pregnancies and deliveries. For these reasons, CIMS recommends that cesarean surgery be reserved for situations when potential benefits clearly outweigh potential harms. The cesarean rate can safely be less than 15 percent84 and 11 percent or less in low-risk women giving birth for the first time,28 yet, in 2007 the U.S. cesarean rate was 32 percent.30 When cesarean surgery rates rise above 15 percent health outcomes for mothers and babies worsen,5 and increasing numbers of scheduled cesareans are contributing to the rising number of late-preterm births.2,6

Cesarean rates have been rising for all women in the United States regardless of medical condition, age, race, or gestational age,52 and while the number of first cesareans performed without medical indication is increasing, no evidence supports the beliefs that these elective cesareans represent maternal request cesareans or that the rise in elective first cesareans has contributed significantly to the overall increase in cesarean rates.52 Elective first cesarean at physician request may, however, play a significant role,39 and the rise in elective repeat surgeries, which has climbed by more than 40 percent in the last ten years, certainly does.64 Although 70 percent of women or more who plan a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) can birth vaginally and avoid the complications of repeat cesarean surgeries,28 almost all women today have a repeat operation because most doctors and many hospitals refuse to allow VBAC.20,35,54

A cesarean can be a life-saving operation, and some babies would not be born vaginally under any circumstances; however, it is still major surgery. Women have a legal right to know the risks associated with their treatment and the right to accept or refuse it.14 CIMS encourages childbearing women to take advantage of their rights and to find out more about the risks of cesarean section so they can make informed decisions about how they want to give birth.

What are the potential harms of cesarean surgery compared with vaginal birth?
Health outcomes after a cesarean may be worse because medical problems may lead to surgery. This fact sheet, however, is based on research that determined excess harms arising from the surgery itself. In other words, women with a healthy pregnancy who have a cesarean rather than a vaginal birth are at increased risk for the following complications as are their babies:

Potential Harms to the Mother
Compared with vaginal birth, women who have a cesarean are more likely to experience:
• Accidental surgical cuts to internal organs.53,60,72
• Major infection.43,48
• Emergency hysterectomy (because of uncontrollable bleeding).38,48,83
• Complications from anesthesia.28
• Deep venous clots that can travel to the lungs (pulmonary embolism) and brain (stroke).28,48
• Admission to intensive care.58
• Readmission to the hospital for complications related to the surgery.18,28
• Pain that may last six months or longer after the delivery.19 More women report problems with pain from the cesarean incision than report pain in the genital area after vaginal birth.19
• Adhesions, thick internal scar tissue that may cause future chronic pain, in rare cases a twisted bowel, and can complicate future abdominal or pelvic surgeries.19
• Endometriosis (cells from the uterine lining that grow outside of the womb) causing pain, bleeding, or both severe enough to require major surgery to remove the abnormal cells.27
• Appendicitis, stroke, or gallstones in the ensuing year.18,46,47,50 Gall bladder problems and stroke may be because high-weight women and women with high blood pressure are more likely to have cesareans.
• Negative psychological consequences with unplanned cesarean. These include:
o Poor birth experience, overall impaired mental health, and/or self-esteem.12
o Feelings of being overwhelmed, frightened, or helpless during the birth.20
o A sense of loss, grief, personal failure , acute trauma symptoms, posttraumatic stress, and clinical depression.37
• Death.12,22

Potential Harms to the Baby
Compared with vaginal birth, babies born by cesarean section are more likely to experience:
• Accidental surgical cuts, sometimes severe enough to require suturing.1,28
• Being born late-preterm (34 to 36 weeks of pregnancy) as a result of scheduled surgery.6
• Complications from prematurity, including difficulties with respiration, digestion, liver function, jaundice, dehydration, infection, feeding, and regulating blood sugar levels and body temperature.25,26 Late-preterm babies also have more immature brains,63 and they are more likely to have learning and behavior problems at school age.25,26
• Respiratory complications, sometimes severe enough to require admission to a special care nursery, even in infants born at early term (37 to 39 weeks of pregnancy).28 Scheduling surgery after 39 completed weeks minimizes, but does not eliminate, the risk.31,32
• Readmission to the hospital.25
• Childhood development of asthma,3,78 sensitivity to allergens,61 or Type 1 diabetes.11
• Death in the first 28 days after birth.51
Potential Harms to Maternal Attachment and Breastfeeding
Failure to breastfeed has adverse health consequences for mothers and babies. Breastfeeding helps protect mothers against postpartum depression, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, ovarian and pre-menopausal breast cancer, and osteoporosis later in life.36,71 Breastfeeding helps protect babies against ear infections, stomach infections, severe respiratory infections, allergies, asthma, obesity, Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, childhood leukemia, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and necrotizing enterocolitis (a severe, life-threatening intestinal infection).15,36
• Women who have unplanned cesareans are more likely to have difficulties forming an attachment to their babies.23
• Women who have cesareans are less likely to have their infants with them skin-to-skin (cradled naked against their bare chest) after the delivery.20 Babies who have skin-to-skin contact interact more with their mothers, stay warmer, and cry less. When skin-to-skin, babies are more likely to be breastfed early and well, and to be breastfed for longer. They may also be more likely to have a good early relationship with their mothers, but the evidence for this is not as strong.16,57
• Women are less likely to breastfeed.21,44

Potential Harms to Future Pregnancies
With prior cesarean, women and their babies are more likely to experience serious complications during subsequent pregnancy and birth regardless of whether they plan repeat cesarean or vaginal birth. The likelihood of serious complications increases with each additional operation.28
Compared with prior vaginal birth, prior cesarean puts women at increased risk of:
• Uterine scar rupture. Planning repeat cesarean reduces the excess risk, but it is not completely protective.8,49,55,75
• Infertility, either voluntary (doesn’t want more children) or involuntary (can’t have more children).7,12,56,70,74,79,80
• Cesarean scar ectopic pregnancy (implantation within the cesarean scar), a condition that is life-threatening to the mother and always fatal for the embryo.67
• Placenta previa (placenta covers the cervix, the opening to the womb), placental abruption (placenta detaches partially or completely before the birth), and placenta accreta, (placenta grows into the uterine muscle and sometimes through the uterus, invading other organs), all of which increase the risk for severe hemorrhage and are potentially life-threatening complications for mother and baby.17,28,85
• Emergency hysterectomy.42,53
• Preterm birth and low birth weight.6,40,65,73,76
• A baby with congenital malformation or central nervous system injury12 due to a poorly functioning placenta.
• Stillbirth.28,29,40,65,76

Cesarean Surgery and Pelvic Floor Dysfunction
Cesarean proponents claim that cesarean surgery will prevent pelvic floor dysfunction, but it offers little or no protection once healing is complete and no protection in later life.12 Moreover, risk-free measures such as engaging in exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor or losing weight can often improve or relieve stress urinary incontinence (loss of urine with pressure on the pelvic floor such as with exercise, laughing, sneezing, or coughing).9,12
• Cesarean surgery does not protect against sexual problems,4,33,41 gas or stool incontinence,10,59 or urge urinary incontinence (loss of urine after sudden need to void).10,13,24,62,82
• Cesarean surgery does not protect against severe stress urinary incontinence.62,82 As many as one more woman in six having vaginal birth may experience stress urinary incontinence of some degree, mostly minor, at six months or more after birth.10,13,24,62,82
• Perhaps one more woman in twenty having vaginal birth will experience symptomatic pelvic floor prolapse (muscle weakness causes the internal organs to sag downwards).45,66,77,81 With three or more vaginal births, this number may be as high as one more woman in ten.66 However, many other factors, including smoking, hysterectomy, hormone replacement therapy, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, and urinary tract infections are also associated with pelvic floor prolapse.

Cesarean Section, Care Providers and Place of Birth
To reduce the risk of cesarean surgery, CIMS encourages women to seek providers and hospitals with low cesarean rates (15% or less) and those that support VBAC. Women can access this data from their state health departments. They can also access hospital-specific cesarean rates and rates for other birth interventions for several states at and a listing of hospitals that do or do not support VBAC from the International Cesarean Network at

Healthy women at low risk for complications should also know that choosing midwifery care or giving birth in a birth center or at home can lower their risk for cesarean section.68,69 Having a doula reduces the likelihood of a cesarean as well.34

This fact sheet was co-authored by Henci Goer, BA and Nicette Jukelevics, MA, ICCE.
© 2010 Coalition for Improving Maternity Services. Permission granted to freely reproduce with attribution.

This fact sheet is endorsed by the following organizations (as of Feb. 2010). Academy of Certified Birth Educators, Birth Matters Virginia, BirthNet of Albany NY, BirthNetwork National, Birth Network of Santa Cruz, Birth Works International, Childbirth Connection, Choices in Childbirth, Citizens for Midwifery, DONA International, International Childbirth Education Association, Lamaze International, The Lawton and Rhea Chiles Center for Healthy Mothers and Babies, Midwives Alliance of North America, National Association of Certified Professional Midwives, North American Registry of Midwives, Perinatal Education Associates, Reading Birth and Women’s Center, The Tatia Oden-French Memorial Foundation, toLabor: The Organization of Labor Assistants for Birth Options and Resources.

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2. Analysis shows possible link between rise in c-sections and increase in late preterm birth. (12/16/08). Retrieved 11/12/09, from
3. Bager, P., Wohlfahrt, J., & Westergaard, T. (2008). Caesarean delivery and risk of atopy and allergic disease: Meta-analyses. Clin Exp Allergy, 38(4), 634-642.
4. Barrett, G., Peacock, J., Victor, C. R., & Manyonda, I. (2005). Cesarean section and postnatal sexual health. Birth, 32(4), 306-311.
5. Betran, A. P., Merialdi, M., Lauer, J. A., Bing-Shun, W., Thomas, J., Van Look, P., et al. (2007). Rates of caesarean section: Analysis of global, regional and national estimates. Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol, 21(2), 98-113.
6. Bettegowda, V. R., Dias, T., Davidoff, M. J., Damus, K., Callaghan, W. M., & Petrini, J. R. (2008). The relationship between cesarean delivery and gestational age among us singleton births. Clin Perinatol, 35(2), 309-323, v-vi.
7. Bhattacharya, S., Porter, M., Harrild, K., Naji, A., Mollison, J., van Teijlingen, E., et al. (2006). Absence of conception after caesarean section: Voluntary or involuntary? BJOG, 113(3), 268-275.
8. Blanchette, H., Blanchette, M., McCabe, J., & Vincent, S. (2001). Is vaginal birth after cesarean safe? Experience at a community hospital. Am J Obstet Gynecol, 184(7), 1478-1484; discussion 1484-1477.
9. Bo, K. (2009). Does pelvic floor muscle training prevent and treat urinary and fecal incontinence in pregnancy? Nat Clin Pract Urol, 6(3), 122-123.
10. Borello-France, D., Burgio, K. L., Richter, H. E., Zyczynski, H., Fitzgerald, M. P., Whitehead, W., et al. (2006). Fecal and urinary incontinence in primiparous women. Obstet Gynecol, 108(4), 863-872.
11. Cardwell, C. R., Stene, L. C., Joner, G., Cinek, O., Svensson, J., Goldacre, M. J., et al. (2008). Caesarean section is associated with an increased risk of childhood-onset type 1 diabetes mellitus: A meta-analysis of observational studies. Diabetologia, 51(5), 726-735.
12. Childbirth Connection. (2004). Harms of cesarean versus vaginal birth: A systematic review. Retrieved 4/17/2004, from
13. Chin, H. Y., Chen, M. C., Liu, Y. H., & Wang, K. H. (2006). Postpartum urinary incontinence: A comparison of vaginal delivery, elective, and emergent cesarean section. Int Urogynecol J Pelvic Floor Dysfunct.
14. Coalition for Improving Maternity Services. (2007). Step 2: Provides accurate, descriptive, statistical information about birth care practices. J Perinat Educ, 16(1), 20S-22S.
15. Coalition for Improving Maternity Services. (2009). Breastfeeding is priceless: There is no substitute for human milk, a cims fact sheet. Retrieved 11/12/09, from
16. Crenshaw, J. (2009). Healthy birth practices from lamaze international. #6: Keep mother and baby together-it’s best for mother, baby, and breastfeeding. Retrieved 2009, from
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19. Declercq, E., Cunningham, D. K., Johnson, C., & Sakala, C. (2008). Mothers’ reports of postpartum pain associated with vaginal and cesarean deliveries: Results of a national survey. Birth, 35(1), 16-24.
20. Declercq, E., Sakala, C., Corry, M. P., & Applebaum, S. (2006). Listening to mothers ii: Report of the second national u.S. Survey of women’s childbearing experiences. New York: Childbirth Connection.
21. Declercq, E., Sakala, C., Corry, M. P., & Applebaum, S. (2008). New mothers speak out:. National survey results highlight women’s postpartum experiences. . New York: Childbirth Connection.
22. Deneux-Tharaux, C., Carmona, E., Bouvier-Colle, M. H., & Breart, G. (2006). Postpartum maternal mortality and cesarean delivery. Obstet Gynecol, 108(3), 541-548.
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About the Risks of Cesarean Section

A Checklist for Expectant Mothers to Read During Pregnancy

Birth is a normal, natural, process and the vast majority of women can have safe, normal, vaginal births. There are health conditions where a cesarean birth is necessary for the well being of the mother or her baby. However, more and more mothers these days are giving birth by cesarean section for non-medical reasons. A cesarean poses risks as well as benefits for mother and baby, and should not be undertaken lightly. This educational material is provided by the Coalition for Improving Maternity Services (CIMS) to help all expectant parents become better informed about the risks of cesarean section.

To give the expectant mother time to reflect on this information and consider the impact of cesarean surgery on her health and the health of her baby, care providers are encouraged to introduce and discuss this evidence-based information throughout pregnancy and no later than at 32-34 weeks. The expectant mother is encouraged to take the form home, read and initial the statements, discuss the information with her partner, and raise any questions or concerns she may have with her care provider. The form may then be placed in her chart.
Expectant Mother’s Name: _________________________________________________
Care Provider’s Name: ____________________________________________________
A cesarean section is an operation by which a baby is born by making a cut in the mother’s lower abdominal wall (abdominal incision) and a cut in her uterus (uterine incision). I understand that a cesarean operation may be more dangerous than a vaginal birth for my baby and me.
1._____ I am more likely to have more blood loss and a longer recovery time.
2._____ I am more likely to have accidental surgical cuts to my bladder, bowel, or gastrointestinal tract.
3._____ I am more likely to have a serious infection in my incision, uterus, or bladder.
4._____ I am more likely to have thick scarring (adhesions) inside my abdomen that may cause chronic pain years after my cesarean. This scarring can make any future abdominal operation I may need more difficult.
5._____ I may have uncontrolled bleeding and need an emergency hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) if the bleeding cannot be stopped.
6._____ I am more likely to have complications from anesthesia.
7._____ I am more likely to develop serious and life-threatening blood clots that can travel to my lungs (pulmonary embolism) or my brain (stroke).
8._____ I am more likely to be admitted to intensive care.
9._____ I am more likely to need to return to the hospital for complications from the cesarean operation.
10._____ I am more likely to feel pain and/or numbness at the site of the operation for several months after my surgery.
11._____ I am less likely to breastfeed successfully. I may lose out on the health benefits of breastfeeding for myself, including: weight loss, reduced risks of cancers, heart disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis.
12._____ I am less likely to have a satisfactory birth experience. I am more likely to have emotional problems such as post-partum depression and post-traumatic stress. Many women experience a profound sense of happiness after a normal birth that flows naturally into bonding with the baby and breastfeeding.
13._____ I am more likely to die.

14._____ I am more likely to have trouble becoming pregnant again.
15._____ I am more likely to have complications in a future pregnancy due to the scar in my uterus. If the new placenta attaches over my previous scar, it is more likely to cause serious problems, including: serious bleeding, placenta coming in front of the baby (placenta previa), placenta growing into or even through the wall of the womb (placenta accreta), miscarriage, or pre-term birth.
16._____ I am more likely to have a baby with a congenital malformation, central nervous system injury, or low birth weight due to problems with the placenta.
17._____ I am more likely to have a stillbirth.
18._____ I am more likely to require major surgery to remove cells from the lining of my uterus that may grow outside my womb (endometriosis).
19._____ Since it is difficult to find a physician or hospital supportive of a vaginal birth after a cesarean (VBAC), I am more likely to have a repeat cesarean for the birth of all my future children, although a vaginal birth after a cesarean birth is usually safe. Each additional operation I have increases the odds for complications.
20._____ Research shows that having a cesarean will not protect me from urine, gas, or stool incontinence in the future, or from future sexual problems.
21._____ I may not be able to get healthcare coverage since some insurance providers consider a cesarean to be a pre-existing condition.
1._____ My baby is more likely to be born prematurely if the cesarean surgery is performed anytime before labor begins. A premature baby is more likely to experience the following:
• -admission to the intensive care nursery
• -trouble breastfeeding, digesting food, and regulating body temperature
• -developing jaundice
• -brain development problems and difficulties in learning in school
2._____ My baby is more likely to face complications from anesthesia and postpartum pain medication.
3._____ My baby is more likely to be accidentally cut during surgery.
4._____ My baby is more likely to have breathing difficulties since labor contractions clear the lungs.
5._____ If I agree to a scheduled cesarean, it is normally best to wait for labor to begin before performing the operation.
6._____ My baby is more likely to have difficulty breastfeeding. My baby is less likely to benefit from skin-to-skin contact with me and is less likely to get the health benefits from breastfeeding including: reduced risk for asthma, allergies, respiratory infections, Type 1 diabetes, childhood leukemia, and SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). If I do have a cesarean, I can request special care to help me and my baby breastfeed successfully before I am discharged from the hospital.
I have read and discussed this information with my care provider.
Expectant Mother’s Signature: _______________________________ Date: ________________
Care Provider’s Signature: __________________________________ Date: ________________
This information is provided for expectant mothers and their care providers by the Coalition for Improving Maternity Services (CIMS). CIMS strongly recommends that cesarean surgery be reserved for situations when potential health benefits clearly outweigh the risks. Please see the The Risks of Cesarean Section, a CIMS Fact Sheet for the references that support this form, available as a free download from

Legal Regulation of Pregnancy and Childbirth

Via the ever marvellous Feminist Law Professors. As personhood of the foetus is foisted on Australian women via the backdoor of homebirth legislation, we should be paying attention to this.
Legal Regulation of Pregnancy and Childbirth

Courtney G. Joslin
University of California, Davis – School of Law

The Child: An Encyclopedic Companion
, University of Chicago Press, 2009
UC Davis Legal Studies Research Paper No. 205


This piece, a short entry in The Child: An Encyclopedic Companion, examines the legal regulation of pregnant women. In particular, the article discusses whether and under what circumstances the state can force pregnant women to undergo unwanted medical treatments or physically restrain or punish pregnant women for engaging in otherwise legal conduct when the state believes that these interventions are necessary to protect the fetus from potential harms.

Accepted Paper Series