St John of God Hospital in Subiaco, Perth are "adding value" to their maternity services by now offering you a cheese platter while you recover from the birth of your baby. "Taking time for the little things is a real focus for our hospital to provide the best experience possible" they said in a recent Facebook post announcing the new service. In a time where birth trauma and postnatal depression are on the rise, you would think there would be other areas the hospital could put a 'real focus' on. The most recent WA Mothers and Babies Annual Report cited St John of God Subiaco as having a staggering 34.9% induction rate and 47% caesarean rate - more than 3 times the recommendation of 10-15% from the World Health Organisation. Another disturbing feature is only 30.3% of women experienced a spontaneous onset of labour!
How many of us go through pregnancy and birth and don't know the risks of interventions? I have previously written about the effect they can have on our babies here. Private hospitals in Australia have significantly higher rates of instrumental deliveries, caesareans, epidurals, episiotomies than the public maternity system - not to mention a decrease in associated birth trauma.
Now, this is not to say intervention or caesareans should be avoided at all costs. There are times when they are absolutely necessary for the safety of Mum and/or baby but it's now more important than ever for us to get informed so we can make supported and educated decisions - and rethink whether the cheese platter really is all that important.