Illawarra birth professionals have continued to highlight their concerns with the way women are treated during pregnancy, labour and birth as more submissions to the NSW birth trauma inquiry are published.
Clinical Midwife Consultant Fiona Reid, who was employed in 2018 at Wollongong Hospital, lodged a submissions saying the birthing system was "designed by middle aged white men for throughput and expediency", rather than based on the experiences of women.
Through her work at the hospital, Ms Reid said she became aware of a need to address women's concerns about the care they had received during their maternity care.
"The formal complaints process was inadequate and appeared disingenuous often reassuring complainants that they had received the best care at the most appropriate time," she said.
"The process was designed to mitigate the risk of litigation and for the organisation to take no responsibility for a woman's traumatic experience that resulted in either or both psychological harm and physical injury."
"The system does not respect women who decline treatment or request that the birth of her baby be treated as the most important day in her and her baby's life and want it to be the most beautiful memory not a memory or sense of being involved in a car accident."
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Ms Reid said she established a Formal Birth Debriefing Clinic over a four-and-a-half year period and debriefed over 500 women.
"I believe that every health service should establish a formal birth debriefing clinic," she said.
Illawarra doula Alyssa Booth, who is part of the advocacy group Better Births Illawarra, has also put her name to a submission in the inquiry detailing how she has "witnessed [birth trauma] time after time" in her professional life.
She said she believed the current system was "sending people out into parenthood traumatised, in a state of fight or flight, unsupported and expecting them to transition to parenthood well and flourish".
"It is not good enough and we need to see change," Ms Booth said.
Ms Booht said she had seen women be coerced into c-section, inductions, episiotomies or birthing lying on their back when they'd hoped to be in another position.
"I watched, shocked and a bit frozen, as a midwife pulled on the umbilical cord, pulling out a clients placenta, causing a hemorrhage and then telling the woman she's having a [post-partum haemorrage], but accepting no responsibility for having created it," she said.
"I watched as a midwife clamped and cut an umbilical cord way too early and a baby needed extra care because they had literally severed her connection to oxygen and blood flow.
"I have witnessed women say no to exams or interventions, only for a [doctor to come into the room and say they have to do the thing or their baby might die."
She said she wanted medical professionals to know that their role was to make suggestions or recommendations, but that the decisions rested solely with the mother or birthing person.
The Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District's Chief Executive Margot Mains said she was committed to listening to and learning from women about their experiences of maternity care.
"The Local Health District welcomes the inquiry and is committed to improving maternity care for women and their families," she said.
"Our staff work incredibly hard to deliver quality and safe services and many women who use our maternity service report a positive experience.
"ISLHD has been actively working to develop and improve our maternity services over many years to meet the diverse needs of women and their families.
"We are committed to collaborating with consumers in planning service delivery.
"This includes working particularly closely with Better Births Illawarra, a local community advocacy group, to guide improvements in care and access to publicly funded birthing options."
The NSW select committee into birth trauma started in June led by Animal Justice MLC Emma Hurst, and will investigate birth trauma, which research shows affects one in three people who give birth.
There were more than 4200 submissions made to the inquiry when it closed on August 15, butdue to this high volume there has been a delay in publishing most of them.
Many of the 199 submissions already published do not name a specific place or hospital, but 29 mention Illawarra hospitals making the region one of the most commonly featured so far.
There will be a public hearing in Wollongong on September 7.
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