The members of the WPG NI and WRDA reject the NICE guidelines for the following reasons:
- These proposals single out black and brown birth giving people, over 35s and people with higher BMIs for early induction at 39 weeks. The equality impact assessment for this guideline has not recognised the impact on these groups of women and birth givers of being singled out based on the fact that these groups have worse health outcomes in general. This is gravely concerning as no evidence is provided that induction may improve these outcomes at all.
- Having a black or brown body does not mean you are less able to give birth. Suggesting so through these guidelines implies that being black or brown is itself a physical risk in pregnancy, rather than addressing the root causes of inequality in our health system which cause black and brown people to be vulnerable to harm
- We know that interventions in birth mean a person could be more likely to experience a traumatic birth; so, we can assume that under these proposals more black and brown people may experience traumatic births. We also know these communities are then less likely to receive support following a traumatic birth experience and that this leads to greater health inequalities later in life
- These guidelines present induction as a ‘choice’, however, we know that many women and birth givers already feel that they faced inadequate communication around the options available to them; especially when many black and brown people report never being offered a ‘choice’ at all, having their choices overridden, denied or their consent ignored. Many have their questions, fears and concerns dismissed or belittled.
- These proposals downplay the fact that many individuals experience induction as being more painful, and that it removes options for giving birth at home or in a birth centre. For the individual this erodes choice; but this also puts greater pressure on an already stretched system.
We are calling for a greater, in-depth look at the root causes for inequality black and brown women and birth giver’s experience.