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Is home birth a crime?

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Is home birth a crime that warrants the violation of patient confidentiality? That is exactly what we witnessed several days ago at the renowned Prague maternity hospital in Podolí. A rescue squad brought to the hospital a baby in critical condition that failed to start breathing on its own after a home birth assisted by a midwife.

What is one phone call to the editorial office of TV Nova worth? Undoubtedly a lot – for example turning a blind TV eye to a potential future problem at the Podolí hospital. Only time will show whether something like that happens. However, after dialling the number, the head physician will certainly become a hero that can be presented on television as the one who rescued the child from his irresponsible mother. At the same time he is gathering arguments against home births in front of running TV cameras. That’s also why the local head physician called the parents of the hospitalised child a few hours after he was brought to hospital and asked them for a meeting. However, he did not talk to them about the health condition of their newborn. Instead, he first let them wait for an hour and then, with almost no comment, passed them on to TV Nova reporters.

During her stay at the hospital, the mother was treated by the hospital staff as if she had planned to kill her own child. However, she wanted the best for her child and was experienced enough. She had given birth twice before, one of the births was home birth and she herself knows the environment of gynaecological wards and maternity hospitals very well. She is studying to become a birth assistant nurse and she has been assisting in dozens of births during her practice. Being able to see behind the scenes of hospital birth and her personal experience convinced her that she would like to do it differently. It is necessary to point out here that the breathing device in the first ambulance that came for her baby was not working and therefore another ambulance had to come, which significantly prolonged the time when the boy was without oxygen. All addressed experts on TV and in newspapers point out the irresponsibility of the mother who had decided to give birth at home, but no one seems to be interested in the dismal state of ambulance cars.

The debate about home births is nothing new and the case from the last week will not move it forward. However, we can ask why a doctor calls TV reporters instead of calling a board of experts that would strive to improve the conditions in Czech maternity hospitals, so that women do not feel compelled to look for alternative ways to give birth. Practices that are common in other countries where doctors accept a mother’s wish to give birth at home, but an ambulance car stays in front of the house while the woman is delivering, are still nothing more than a utopian vision in this country.

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