An example story based on the many complaints we assist with each year...
Jessica's Story - In Labour
Jessica is at the hospital, in early labour with her second child. Unfortunately her labour has stalled due to the journey from home to the hospital, then the long walk along brightly lit corridors to finally arrive in the birthing room. After an hour or so of quietness, Jessica is finally starting to go back into active labour again, but a midwife enters the room and expresses concern that she is not progressing “as she should”.
The midwife suggests augmenting Jessica’s labour with synthetic oxytocin, but Jessica wants to continue labouring as she has been without interference. Her sense is that if she is left alone for a while, she will re-establish her active labour. However, the midwife is insistent that induction is necessary.
What are Jessica’s options?
1. Know her rights
As in Sophie’s story, Jessica needs to understand her right to say no to this intervention and that the hospital can only make recommendations; they have no right to insist on her having treatment. Sophie also has the right to leave the hospital at any time if her decisions aren’t respected. (More on knowing her rights in Sophie's story.)
2. State her decisions
Jessica can state that she doesn’t want to be induced and that she just needs to be left alone so her body can re-establish labour. Hospital staff do not need to be present in a birth room. It is a woman’s right to choose whomever is in the room with her.
3. Go up the chain
If Jessica’s choices aren’t respected, she (or her partner, or support person) can also ask to speak with the Midwifery Unit Manager to state her decision for an intervention free labour. As in Sophie’s story, she might find that more senior staff are more comfortable with supporting her decisions.
4. Seek external support
As Jessica has chosen the hospital as her birth place, she would rather just be left to get on with the labour and give birth there, but as mentioned above it is her right to leave at any time. This is a difficult step to take in labour but has been done before. Some women go home to give birth there and after the birth complain to their hospital, health service, state and federal Health Ministers about the breaches of their rights that occurred. She can start her complaints process by selecting her state.