Posted by: Witch Doctor | January 21, 2011

Home birth targets


Readers of this blog will know that The Witch Doctor has not, does not, and will not ever support the concept of having government targets for home births.

Dr Grumble comments elsewhere :

“To save your Black Cat some trouble, the Strategic Health Authority for the South West says that it expects 10% of babies to be born at home by 2011.”

My Black Cat is looking into this further.

If The Witch Doctor’s memory serve her well, she seems to remember a recent Secretary of State for Health, Patsy, who wavers a bit on things, is a flower that gets stung but nevertheless has strong views on leadership, and many other things besides such as feminism, woman’s rights, and of, course abortion and euthanasia, had a lot to do with advocating ‘CHOICE’ for mothers to have home births .



The Witch Doctor fully supports Dr Crippen’s term “madwife” for those former members of the midwife profession who participate in this hobby that clearly gives them some kind of emotional boost when all goes well, as it usually does. However their activities may well propel them into court some weeks after a small white coffin has been laid to rest. It just needs to happen once.

Most of the time though, they’ll see a live baby and happy mother – a success story which boosts their “independence” and “professionalism” and, as a consequence, their “ego.” They will have walked well away into the warm sun by the time any long-term problems appear.

THIS IS TWEE  (which is OK but only after a safe delivery)

And they will shrug off The Witch Doctor’s pond fracture as just one of those things.

Won’t they, My Black Cat?

Or they’ll say “that was a long time ago.” Or “It wouldn’t happen now – we don’t “do” Prims or complicated pregnancy’s at home.”

We are very choosy, what kind of mother we’ll “do” at home….

So, mothers don’t really get a “choice” then?

Only the ones that The Crystal Ball or The Book of Spells reveal will have a straightforward delivery will be “done” at home.

Even a witch can’t tell when a delivery will be “normal” She might be able to say it will probably be normal.

“Probability,” however is not good enough when it comes to a witch child, and it should not be good enough for any child.

“Probability” supports the commune. It does not support the individual.

May the devil bless the madwiife in court and ensure she (or I suppose in these days of peculiar equality it might be a he) gets what she/he deserves.

On the other hand, The Witch Doctor can just about get her head round the fact that some women might want to choose to have their baby at home. After all, the hormonal changes associated with pregnancy are very powerful and in primitive times it would be in the interests of the baby if the mother had some kind of hormonal pull to have a baby at home where there were helpful relatives and the village wise woman experienced in these things to call upon.……much safer to labour at home than alone in a field under the stars.

So there will always be women who will CHOOSE to have their baby at home. Some simply might be frightened of hospitals but they will give all sorts of reasons to hide this fear. The Witch Doctor has sympathy with that too.

(that’s OK too. You are allowed to be twee once you have a live baby)

But the “wise women” of the village are now in hospitals with experience in every single complication that might arise during childbirth. As well as experience, they have their sophisticated “Spell Pantries” to draw upon. The ingredients found there include expensive monitoring equipment, resuscitation equipment, blood transfusions, all kinds of medication and much more.

The safest maternity unit of all will be attached to a general hospital where there are paediatricians, diabetic consultants, cardiologists, respiratory physicians etc to attend to any unexpected problems the mother may have. The Witch Doctor had the privilege of working in such a general hospital many years ago where all help was at hand within minutes if mother or baby ran into problems. And she saw such help being given. They closed it, opened instead an isolated maternity unit, closed it again years later and reopened two maternity units within large general hospitals.

Full circle. Common sense.

Where do targets for home births fit in to this common sense approach?

Ah, the “Choice” word, My Black cat. Patient Choice.

Say the word often enough and the patients might even think it’s all about “Choice.”

The kind of “Choice” generated by The Thought Leaders.

You find these kind of leaders everywhere, My Black Cat.

And some have been engulfed by HMG or rather HMC



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  1. I wrote a bit about this, from my “medical spouse perspective”, when Mrs Dr A and I took delivery of our second, now a strapping two-and-a-half yr old. Our choice for both births was the midwife-led delivery unit, with on-site consultant back-up, at our local large teaching hospital… for all the sorts of reasons you can imagine and/or have just described.

    • Have just read your post and we are both saying much the samr thing but yours is rather more eloquent. I’ll link to it on one of my next posts on the subject. Thanks

  2. […] The latest addition to the Royal family was not delivered at home. […]

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