Dr. Nancy Salgueiro, an Ottawa chiropractor and childbirth coach, wants a public inquiry into what she says are violations of women’s right to informed consent during childbirth. To help fuel her call she’s launched a website to collect the stories of women who say their rights weren’t respected in delivery rooms.
“If anybody does anything to someone’s body without their permission, they’ve violated their right to informed consent, and that happens all the time,” said Salguiero.
Salguiero said she believes 95 per cent of pregnant women undergo unnecessary interventions, such as caesarean sections or epidurals, because they are uniformed of the risks.
“Generally, pregnant women are healthy, normal people going through a normal biological process, like going to the bathroom or digesting food,” she said. “They don’t need to be told how to do it.”
Kathryn Clarke, senior communications co-ordinator at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, says physicians are obliged to provide enough information to patients so they can make decisions.
“I don’t believe that violates anybody’s rights,” she said. “You’re asking for their professional opinion and they’re giving it to you.”
Robin Guy said her physician lacked the skills required to help her birth her baby the way she wanted.
“I should have been able to have a vaginal birth in the hospital with either a skilled midwife or a doctor that I trusted,” said Guy. Instead, she said she was forced to have a c-section because no one at the hospital was trained to help her naturally birth a baby in the breech position. “I was going to catch her myself, and they stole it from me,” she said. “It felt like I had something very precious taken away.”
Guy submitted her story to Salgueiro’s website, yourbirthcoach.com, and is also organizing the third international Breech Conference, which will take place in Washington in November.
“I have lots of friends who would choose caesarean, and I don’t have a problem with that,” said Guy. “What I have a problem with is forcing anyone into an intervention they don’t want.”
Both Guy and Salgueiro said they hope an inquiry will make medical practitioners respect a woman’s right to decide how to give birth.