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Lucky to be here

June 20, 2010

According to the paper this morning, Australia ranks as the 4th safest country in the world to give birth in.  Can you guess the risk of maternal death?  According to 2005 WHO data, Australian women have a 1 in 13,000 chance of dying during childbirth – which still seems scarily high to me, although much much safer than in the developing world where there is a lifetime risk of dying in childbirth of 1 in 75.

I’m not sure what the individual risk would be for a normal healthy pregnancy, given that the causes include haemorraging, eclampsia, infections and obstructed labour which appear to be unpredictable factors for many women.  I think I’m glad I didn’t know these odds going in – would have freaked me right out.  Out of interest, Ireland is way ahead of everyone else at 1 in 48,000 (wonder what’s going on there?), the UK rates as 23rd and the US as 41st in the world – not sure why they are this low, but it’s surprising.

It’s on my mind as while I was in NZ a minor stoush apparently occurred at Mums’ group with a mum (who joined our group late and therefore unfortunately feels to us like a little bit of an outsider already) adamant that the rest of us who gave birth in hospital under the care of an Ob were misguided in treating labour like a medical condition, rather than the lovely natural process that it is.

As far as I am concerned, I support the right of any woman to choose the birth that suits them, and I agree that birth is a very natural wonderful thing – unless a complication occurs which can make it a very real medical situation.

One good friend had a disasterous birthing centre experience, and followed it up with a much more relaxed home birth for her second, which she’s still buzzing from.  She’s convinced that given my uneventful 38 hour home labour and quick delivery (in hospital via Ob) that I’ll go home birth next time around.

While I love the concept and think it would be blissful if everything went well, my tolerance for risk is low, and I’ll be back in hospital for the birth of the next Von Trapp baby, should we be lucky enough to get the chance.  That’s no judgment on anyone else’s choice – just what’s right for me.

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