Planning a birth is a concept that has become part of our colloquial language in our childbirth journeys; choosing the environment, care provider and circumstances that surround your birth is both an issue of human rights and personal dignity.
For some women and birthing people the choice of care provider that is deemed to be suitable for their needs is a self-employed, rather than an NHS or private company midwife. Some birthing people reach this decision based on specific circumstances that require a midwife who has a specialist knowledge in their situation; others may choose to have a self-employed midwife because of a desire for greater continuity through their antenatal, birth and postnatal care than can feasibly be offered by an NHS midwife. One is not better than the other but having the right to choice is the important issue here, that midwifery is an autonomous career path, allowing all qualified midwives in the UK decide if they want to work as employed, or self-employed professionals, should be a matter of choice.
In July 2020 the indemnity insurance required for self-employed midwives to work in the UK became unavailable from the commercial market insurance companies that had previously provided such cover. The data used to assess what indemnity should cost is based on the data of all liability cases that have been made against maternity, included negligence within NHS care. Whilst no self-employed midwife has ever had a case of negligence passed against them, the national data makes self-employed indemnity insurance unaffordable; quite simply put… the commercial insurance market just deem birth to be ‘too risky’. That leaves us in a position in the UK where over 120 self-employed midwives are no longer able to legally work. It also means that every one of the 36,000+ midwives in the UK no longer has the option to work as a self-employed midwife, should they choose to.
Women and birthing people now cannot choose to access a midwife away from the NHS, or from private companies; they can no longer choose to contact their own self-employed midwife to support their care, which has led to an increase in birthers choosing to freebirth (give birth without a medical professional present) and, during a time of severe withdrawal of many home birth services due to COVID 19, has left many women and birthing people unable to have the home birth that has been part of their birth plan.
Childbirth Choices Matter Campaign is run to address this situation and to ensure that going forward the option of insured, self-employed midwifery care is a choice for any woman or birthing person who deems this to be their preferred pathway for care. Through public donation and charity fundraising activities we are seeking a solution to create a campaign run and owned indemnity product that is sustainable and takes the need for the commercial market fluctuations out of the equation. We have been gifted the profits of a charity single called ‘Breathe Again’, which has been written and recorded by singer/songwriter Nickita, to support the fundraising activity and are also hosting a number of events over 2021 which will allow the public to engage with supporting us and helping to change the restrictions currently faced.
The campaign will continue to raise funds ongoing to ensure that in the future there is an access fund for women and birthing people to apply to receive support from a health care professional of their choice as well as working to ensure that midwifery is respected as an autonomous profession going forward. We will continue to ensure that the choice of women and birthing people is in place to meet them where they are at and to meet their needs for a safe, dignified and respectful birth.
You can read about the campaign here: www.childbirthchoicesmatter.co.uk
You can pre order the charity single ‘Breathe Again’ which is due for release on Mothers day (14.03.2020) here: https://music.apple.com/album/1549362552?app=itunes&ls=1