Mothers should have birth options
Bermudian mothers should have the option of a specialised birth centre outside hospital, a top British-based midwife has said.
Tandy Deane-Gray added that island midwives should be able to provide a broader range of services to expectant mothers.
Ms Deane-Gray, a Bermudian midwifery lecturer at the University of Hertfordshire in England, said: “Here there is very little choice for women. It's very medicalised.”
She explained that women in Bermuda do not have the option of using a birthing pool for pain relief.
Ms Deane-Gray said: “You can have that in America, you can have that in England. Why don't we have birth pools? Why don't we have a low-risk room?
“I believe this is partly the reason why we are seeing an increase in home births because women want choice and that's the only way they can get it.
“My dream, my vision is that there will be more choice for women that will improve their satisfaction.
“We could have a birth centre — there is no reason why that has to be part of the hospital. That would be the ideal.”
Ms Deane-Gray, speaking as the island prepared to mark International Midwives' Day on May 5, said a pregnant woman considered to be “low-risk and normal” would be a midwife's responsibility in England.
Ms Deane-Gray added: “The minute they step out of that the midwife must collaborate and refer to a doctor and midwives know that.”
But Ms Deane-Gray, who has worked in Bermuda and England as a midwife, said she “couldn't practise here to my full scope of midwifery because they don't do that in the hospital here”.
She added: “My dream is that women will have more choice and will have more midwifery-led care here because midwives are beneficial to public health in general.
“Their scope is inclusive not just of deliveries but also ensuring lots of public health issues.”
Ms Deane-Gray is a national infant paediatric examination practitioner in the UK.
She said studies had shown that women were more satisfied if a midwife discharged them from hospital rather than a doctor because they often knew the new mothers and cared for them in labour or before the birth.
Ms Deane-Gray, who is also a baby massage therapist, said midwives were also often able to take more time to provide health education than a doctor.
She added: “So you do far wider things — education on things like smoking, diet, alcohol, taking a baby to bed. Those things are not necessarily recognised here.”
Ms Deane-Gray said the lack of scope could be a reason why there were so few Bermudian midwives on the island.
She explained: “When you have a profession you love and you can't practise everything that you are able to do, then it's a very frustrating place to be in.”
Ms Deane-Gray said that in addition to a broader scope for midwives, more should be done to encourage Bermudians to take up the profession.
She added: ”It's the best job in the world. First of all, they would have excellent job satisfaction but having more midwives is also good for the health of the nation.”
A spokesman with the Ministry of Health said the ministry was “aware and conscious of concerns about midwives' limited scope of practice in Bermuda”.
He said the issue was being considered, as well as its relationship with the broader health sector, regulatory infrastructure, malpractice insurance and cost.
“The ministry is considering how these issues may be addressed to identify a locally appropriate solution that will assure continued safe deliveries and improved patient choice,” he added.
To celebrate International Midwives' Day, the maternity unit at the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital will host an open day today from 10am to 4pm.
There will also be a public event with advice for new parents, baby massages and special events at the Youth Library on Church Street from 11am to 3pm tomorrow.
Ms Deane-Gray said new mothers and fathers and anyone looking for information about pregnancy or birth should attend.
She added: “Certainly, I'd love to speak with anybody interested in being a midwife and we would be able to discuss if that's the right career for them.”
A group of midwives will also be taking part in the XL Catlin End-to-End on Saturday.