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06.10.2014


If you’re a mom wanting to give birth naturally in South Africa, you might find yourself facing some opposition, and not just from women around you.
That’s because in South Africa’s private healthcare arena, the decision to ‘go natural’ is often one that moms have to rigorously defend. The first is a doctor who warns you that your baby is too big or that you’re too small to deliver naturally. There is no way to tell, even from an x-ray, that a woman’s pelvis won’t distend and disengage sufficiently for her baby, and ultrasounds can be off by as much as 400 grams. Another common sign of medical bullying happens quite late in the pregnancy, at about 36 weeks.
The third clue you have a medical bully on your hands is when your doctor tells you halfway through your pregnancy that your amniotic fluid is drying up or calcifying; this typically only starts to happen though, once mom is two to three weeks overdue.
The World Health Organisation says that a Caesarean rate above 15% is unjustifiable, yet private hospitals in South Africa have rates as high as 68% (National Perinatal Mortality and Morbidity Committee Triennial Report, 2008-2010).
Did you know that gynaes and obstetricians pay upwards of R40 000 a month on medical insurance, a premium that goes up significantly should insurance have to pay out for malpractice. It’s understandable therefore, why some doctors would rather do a hundred unnecessary Caesareans than risk losing one baby or mom in a real emergency.
Currently, government is working on capping medical malpractice payouts, which might well have a significant impact on the number of C-sections pushed onto unwilling women in years to come. If you want to give birth naturally, the most important thing you can do is start off with the right caregiver.
If your doctor is clearly not on the same page as you, then you should consider finding a new caregiver. This is a very special time in your life; it’s your right to find a caregiver who will help you to enter motherhood in the way you choose, while safeguarding both your and your baby’s life. You should also consider finding a midwife or doula, even if you are planning to give birth in a hospital.
Currently, private hospitals don’t allow midwives to come into the labour room with moms, and only a handful allow doulas; with consistent pressure from moms however, this will change. I always remind women that this isn’t just the day that a baby will be born … it’s also the day that a mom is born.
If you’re pregnant and working, or if you’re thinking about getting pregnant and working, you need to know that there are specific federal laws in place that can help you in the event your employer discriminates against you. Pregnancy should be a happy time, and one in which you’re devoted to caring for you and your growing baby. Please feel free to email us at if you have any questions or comments!Unfortunately, we will be unable to answer medical related questions. Medical marijuana may be an untapped source of relief for pregnant women suffering from severe morning sickness.
This past July, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) released new recommendations inspired by the increased prevalence of marijuana. Dogood told The Daily Beast that her doctor hadn’t prescribed much else for her symptoms than making sure she got her recommended dose of vitamin D.


Our dedicated Medical Negligence (sometimes referred to as clinical negligence) specialists represent both clients acting on their own behalf and those acting on behalf of their children. We have offices in Northamptonshire and Leicestershire and we are able to represent clients across the country in relation to claims against all health care providers such as Hospitals, Doctors, General Practitioners, Osteopaths and Physiotherapists whether the treatment received was NHS or privately funded.
We can work with those representing the potential defendants to achieve a settlement and compensation for you as quickly as possible.
We are happy to offer a free initial telephone consultation with a member of our specialist team and subject to agreement we can offer no win – no fee agreements. As widely reported in the Northampton Chronicle and Echo and the Northants Evening Telegraph the team recently settled a significant case against Kettering General Hospital in relation to a young boy diagnosed with cerebral palsy following a brain injury sustained at birth as well as representing the Leicestershire family of Jack Adcock at Inquest and in the initial Medical Negligence claim (more here). From our conveniently located offices in Northampton, Kettering, Corby, Higham Ferrers, Wellingborough and Leicester we are ideally located to offer expert advice on Medical Negligence claims. You can be assured that you’ll be talking to the experts as members of our team have been recognised by the Legal 500. Wilson Browne Solicitors is highly regarded for its expertise in Clinical Negligence, and representative matters including advising on cerebral palsy cases, dealing with delay in diagnosis claims, and representing clients at inquests.
JUDE POLACK, director of active birth hospital, Genesis Clinic, gives advice on dealing with ‘medical bullies’. Doing it when you’re pregnant and have the life of your unborn child to consider, is particularly daunting, especially when you’re up against a doctor or caregiver who’s intent on changing your mind. Based on the experiences of moms who come to us at Genesis Clinic after being discouraged by their doctor against natural birth, there are three clues to alert you to the fact that you’re dealing with potential medical bullies.
In my practice, I’ve seen tiny women giving birth without trouble to babies over 3.5 kg, while bigger moms needed help delivering babies just over two kilos. The doctor will start priming you that your baby hasn’t engaged or dropped down, which will unfortunately necessitate a Caesarean. They’re being given one-sided information aimed at pushing them into making decisions that suit the medical fraternity, which, in the case of private healthcare in South Africa, is significantly skewed towards performing C-sections. People joke and say that doctors in South Africa do Caesareans so that they’re not interrupted on the golf course. For these doctors, C-sections seem like the safest obstetric procedure from a legal standpoint.
Until then though, what can moms do to get the best chance of having the safe, natural birth they want, without the bullying? I’m always amazed how moms will swop hairdressers and nail technicians and insurance companies if they’re not getting the service they want, but they’re terrified of changing doctors. They will come to your appointments with you, support you and stand up for you, while ensuring you get a safe experience. Women need to put pressure on hospitals and doctors to start offering them the birthing experience they want. This is a huge rite of passage for a woman; she should be allowed to make this journey in the way she chooses, and with a caregiver who is mindful not only of mom’s and baby’s safety, but also of her hopes for how she wants to bring her child into the world. It’s illegal for a company to treat an employee or an employment applicant differently or unfairly because she is pregnant.


That includes firing, hiring, your rate of pay, the jobs you’re assigned, promotions, training opportunities, fringe benefits (like medical insurance) or any other term or condition related to your employment. If you’re not able to do your regular job duties because of a pregnancy-related medical condition, your employer has to treat you the same way they would treat any other employee with a temporary disability. If you have gestational diabetes, for example, you may qualify for reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act. It’s considered harassment when you feel that you are in a hostile work environment, or when it results in a work demotion or even being fired.
They can’t single out pregnancy and give pregnant women a different set of rules such as sick time or granting leave. You shouldn’t have to worry about being discriminated against at your place of employment, and there are laws to keep it from happening.
But even in states where it’s legal, The Daily Beast has found that many physicians still refuse to sign off on medical licenses for pregnant women. When she’d exhausted several natural remedies for otherwise relief, including essential oils, her boyfriend produced marijuana for the two of them to smoke. Anthony Anzalone, a general practitioner from New Jersey, told The Daily Beast that marijuana could be potentially risky for the fetus.
A large percentage of babies however, will only engage once labour starts, particularly in second pregnancies; in fact, most second or third babies will only engage the day before or even once labour has started. Find out what his or her C-section rate is, and what his or her philosophy about natural birth is. There is no reason why all hospitals shouldn’t have active birthing units, giving moms the beautiful experience they so want, with the safety net for the 10-15% of moms who’ll experience complications. The person harassing you can be the employer, another employee or even a client or customer of the company. If the employer requires a doctor’s note for a normal sick day or medical leave, however, they can and will likely ask the same for pregnancy. This is to be expected when national guidelines typically warn against marijuana use during pregnancy. And there are some studies that find marijuana use during pregnancy may triple the risk of premature and stillbirth.
Such a narrow term does not even begin to cover how many situations come under the banner of Medical Negligence. But the doctor who tells you early in your pregnancy that your baby is going to get stuck is flat-out lying to you. Arm yourself with information about the pros and cons of both routes; don’t just rely on what you’re told.



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