Jess Rose draws on her experience of childbirth to analyse the impact of downgrading maternity services, and invites mothers across Wales to contribute to a film project responding to these dangerous cuts.See more from Planet 220 here
According to the 2014 maternity statistics for Wales1, Bronglais hospital in Ceredigion hosts an average of 500 birth per year. Of these babies, 32% arrive via Caesarean, and 14% through instrumental delivery. Only 48% experience a ‘normal delivery’. Considering this figure falls below half, I feel it might be appropriate to question this use of the term ‘normal’. The only observable ‘norm’ is that despite the phenomenon of the ‘birth plan’ for mothers (a record of what you would like to happen and to avoid during your labour and after the delivery) birth cannot be scripted at all. We might read ‘normal’ to mean ‘natural’, a concept within birth narratives which can be disputed in that, regardless of one’s rejection of pain medication or the non-requirement of medical intervention, no birth takes place free of cultural constructs and pressures, and besides, no birth ever goes to plan.
Though the statistical chart does not declare just how many of the C-Sections cited were planned, we can assume that some, at least, were not. Following the chart a little further beyond my own local hospital, I note that the figure for C-Sections falls at roughly 30% in almost every entry: in Nevill Hall, Abergavenny, Princess of Wales, Bridgend, Singleton, Swansea. There are, however, glaring zeros between these figures, representative of those hospitals which lack the necessary consultants and facilities to perform C-Sections, and other interventions. In the chart, Llanidloes and Montgomery sit side by side, providing for twenty and thirty births per year respectively. 100% of these are ‘normal delivery’. Does this mean that these fifty mothers all ‘performed’ perfectly, popping their tots out swiftly without the need for medical intervention? Sadly it does not. The gaping zeros rather suggest that those women who did require significant medical intervention will have been raced, often at a critical stage of labour, to the nearest C-section-ready ward, often miles and hours away...
Jess Rose is a postgraduate researcher and freelance photographer, currently preparing for a period of travel with her baby.
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