Reclaiming Birth rally

Amity Reed invites us to march for maternity care reform.

The Association for Improvements in the Maternity Services (AIMS), along with the National Childbirth Trust and many midwifery organisations, are Reclaiming Birth by organising a march to Whitehall via Westminster Bridge this Sunday, 7 March, with a rally and speeches afterwards on the importance of real options in maternity care. The gathering point is Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park, Lambeth Road, London SE1 4EQ from 13:00 with the march setting off at 13:30. A march guide and poster promoting the event can be found on the AIMS website.

I’ve written before on the sometimes horrifying consequences of a poor maternity service and have asked you to speak out against the closure of units known to provide pregnant women with excellent care and real options, regardless of their income level or postcode. Unfortunately, despite many organisations’ best efforts, these things are still happening with alarming regularity. Promise after governmental promise to reform maternity care in the UK has gone unfulfilled. Since 1993, we have been told that major changes are needed to provide an adequate service to all women, yet change has not come. As with many ‘women’s issues’, it has been put on the back burner, waiting for some mythical, opportune time in which it can be properly addressed.

And now, a growing number of women are dissatisfied with and even harmed by their maternal care. An October 2009 survey conducted by Netmums in association with the Royal College of Midwives found that 30 per cent were not offered free antenatal classes, 13 per cent were offered no choice in where they could have their baby, 35 per cent reported being left alone during labour at a worrying time, 22 per cent did not feel involved in decisions about their care and 43 per cent of mothers did not have sufficient access to a midwife on the postnatal ward. Things obviously need to change and the Reclaiming Birth march hopes to help bring those changes about.

If you are unable to attend (and even if you are!), please consider signing the petition and writing to the Minister of Health and your MP. Contact details and sample letters can be found here. Monetary donations to help cover the costs of the rally are also appreciated.