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No pain, no gain!

NHS may give women right to caesarean.

Although a quarter of all births are already carried out by caesarean, women do not have the automatic right to ask for one if there is no medical reason for it.

Now my co-conspiritor Ian B is tireless (or tiresome) in his belief that IngSoc is not Marxist but an off-shoot of puritanism, Methodism and all that lot. I paraphrase but he sees it as essentially moral rather than economic. Increasingly I agree. Note the way that headline is worded. Or this…

“For all women requesting a CS, if after discussion and offer of support (including perinatal mental health support for women with anxiety about childbirth), a vaginal birth is still not an acceptable option, offer a planned CS.”

That is chilling. “Perinatal mental health support”? What sectioning are we talking about here?

A few years back the NHS decided a pregnant woman needed a C-section. She had her heart set on a “natural” birth. The docs sectioned her, put her under and did it. She successfully sued because she wasn’t insane. She just didn’t want a specific medical intervention. She stated this sanely and clearly but Doctor said “No!” She was quite possibly being bloody stupid but her body, her child. And perhaps more to the point the perverse twisting of the mental health act this involved was dreadful.

So it goes both ways. In both cases it reminds me of an old joke.

This guy is at the pearly gates and St Peter is checking him in, going through the clipboard (no graving of images – check!) and there is suddenly a tremendous noise and a Ferrari screams past driven by an elderly man with a white beard and a white coat. The fella is perturbed (well he’s just died so it must be an emotional time in general). St Peter touches his arm and says, “Don’t worry. That’s just God. He thinks he’s a doctor”.

A rational healthcare system would allow a woman to choose. I mean if you can’t choose about that… As to anxiety about childbirth. Isn’t that natural? And coming from the NHS which due to it’s “replaceable parts” mentality seems to lack the basic awareness that enabling a woman to see the same midwife throughout pregnancy and birth might reduce the C-section rate. I’m getting into the same NHS-speak of reducing rates and hitting targets. Now that’s fine in the meat-packing industry. It does strike me as odd that if you say, “A woman’s right to choose” everyone assumes you are talking about the termination of a pregnancy.

It also strikes me as an example of Ian’s moral conception of socialism. The entire “natural” childbirth movement seems predicated around not so much an obstetrics manual as the Book of Genesis. You know Eve and the serpent and giving birth amongst pain and suffering and all that malarkey. There is probably also wailing and gnashing of teeth. And that essentially if you don’t do it in a paddling pool with whale-song as your only pain relief you’re not a real woman. I even once read that it’s easier for Africans because they are used to squatting to pound cassava. Now don’t get me wrong. The paddling pool and whale song might work for some folk. Usually the very well-prepared who have a several-month relationship with their midwife. But even then it isn’t for everyone. Nothing is for everyone.

“Too posh to push”? Well, yeah. It’s this little thing we have called civilization. NASA have sent probes to the heliopause, Chinese food is widely available and life is good but in his one thing it is expected to be agony.

And it is original sin. You have been a naughty girl so this ought to hurt.

Louise Brown, conceived without sin, was born by a planned C-section.

Am I reading too much into that? I don’t think so. A few years ago the first IVF kid gave birth herself and the papers all remarked the baby was “normal”.

God alone knows what they expected. I’m not talking about religious types. I’m talking about the likes of Jane Moore writing in The Sun.

But IVF is sin, epidurals are sin, not whelping it out in a dried-up creek in Burkhina Faso (that’s like so “authentic” that is) is sin. Every single aspect of progress is sinful. Everything since Adam took the fruit and knew good from evil is a sin. Yet to me the only real morality stems from knowing those two imposters. It is about not harming others and owning yourself.

Real choice by which I mean real morality is entirely personal. It seriously isn’t being told what to do.


  1. berenike says:

    Is someone suggesting not providing pain relief?

    Another time you’ll be complaining that the NHS provides “sex change” operations for men who can’t face life with a willy, or women who can’t face life without one.

  2. NickM says:

    Well a third of the transgendered do off themselves so yeah, why not? But I was really calling into question the whole NHS ediface and it’s foundational principles of “We know what’s good for you”.

  3. berenike says:

    Forcing someone to have something they don’t want done – am with you.

    Providing everything folk want on the NHS – um.

  4. JuliaM says:

    “…perinatal mental health support for women with anxiety about childbirth…”

    Isn’t a bit of anxiety about childbirth perfectly natural? Here we go with the medicalisation of the perfectly normal range of human behaviour again!

    And besides, is she nervous about the birth process itself, or the god-awful, dangerous, degrading experience that the NHS is likely to make of it?

  5. Laird says:

    Well, not being a woman and so not having experienced childbirth, and not being subject to the NHS, I enter this discussion with some trepidation. (But obviously not enough to keep me out.)

    I start with the assumption that a C-section costs more than natural childbirth, even with an anesthetic. If that is the case, as a taxpayer I would have a problem with paying more for a procedure which isn’t medically necessary simply to satisfy someone’s irrational preferences. If they’re going to permit this at the least they should charge for the cost differential.

    And I don’t see that this has anything to do with “original sin” (do Anglicans still believe in that?). There was no indication that anesthetics were being denied, and as I understand it an epidural eliminates all pain. (I’m prepared to be corrected on this, however.)

    If the state is going to presume to be the provider of all medical services I would expect that it use its best efforts to provide them in as economically rational a manner as is practicable. That means denying unnecessary procedures.

  6. fred says:


    An epidural does not necessarily eliminate all pain, and it has to be turned off for the active phase of labor, since the lady has to be able to feel the pain to push.

    Anyway, there is going to be pain, with a c section it is deferred and goes on longer.

    As for the NHS, frankly anyone who voluntarily wants a c section should go private and pay for it since it definitely counts as an elective, non- essential surgical procedure.

  7. NickM says:

    Precisely what I was thinking.

    Original sin. It is my contention that a lot of our cultural precepts are essentially post-christian.

    As to paying – what precisely is medically un-needed? This is the fundamental issue with the NHS. It or rather NICE decide. And you can’t opt out. It’s like state schools – you pay whether you use or not.

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