The Birth Reform Alliance yesterday urged the government to continue its pilot program of allowing midwives to work alongside gynecologists during childbirth.
In October last year, the Ministry of Health and Welfare launched the Mother-friendly Childbirth Hospital Pilot Program aimed at creating a “warm, comfortable, diversified, mother-friendly childbirth environment in hospitals,” by treating childbirth as a natural phenomenon and cutting back on unnecessary procedures, such as shaving, enemas and episiotomies.
The program allows midwives to accompany expectant mothers and evaluate the best procedures for them during childbirth. Six major hospitals were selected to carry out the pilot program.
The alliance yesterday said that Taiwan has one of the lowest percentages of midwife-attended births in the world, about 0.05 percent, adding that the ministry suspended the pilot program only six months after it was launched.
Gao Mei-ling (高美玲), a professor at National Taipei University of Nursing and Health Sciences, said that during the trial period, 143 expectant mothers gave birth with the assistance of midwives alongside a gynecologist.
She said the hospitals’ caesarean section rates fell, breastfeeding rates increased and no complications were reported for the mothers participating in the program, while more than 85 percent of the mothers said they were satisfied with the process.
At the Taoyuan General Hospital, episiotomy rates fell by 18.92 percent compared with last year, 83.33 percent of the mothers said that prenatal counseling offered by midwives was helpful and 91.97 percent said they were willing to give birth again under the supervision of a midwife and a gynecologist, according to the alliance.
“With the professional help offered by a midwife, I felt well-prepared to greet my baby, for example when I felt labor pains, I knew what I could do to relieve the pain,” a woman surnamed Lin (林) said.
The alliance said suspending the program shortly after it was launched is a waste of resources and it deprives women of options during childbirth.
It urged the ministry to allocate the necessary resources to continue the program and called on political candidates to come up with policies for a diversified childbirth process.
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