Social Media and Birth Plans Set Unreasonable Expectations for Parents in the Delivery Room, Claim Doctors

The peak body representing doctors has raised concerns about social media and birth plans giving parents unreasonable expectations of control during labor and causing unnecessary distress. The Australian Medical Association (AMA) stated in its submission to the NSW birth trauma inquiry that parents often arrive at the delivery room with detailed birth plans that they expect to be strictly followed. However, health practitioners may need to make split-second decisions for the health of the mother and baby, which may not align with the birth plan.

The AMA highlighted the influence of social and mainstream media in creating a false perception that following a birth plan guarantees a normal or perfect birth. The organization called for better antenatal education to ensure parents understand the potential need for medical intervention during birth.

Dr. Kathryn Austin, a private obstetrician and vice president of the AMA’s NSW branch, expressed concern that parents were “setting themselves up for failure.” She highlighted the importance of respectful and woman-centered care in obstetrics and emphasized that the best birth plan is a healthy mother and baby.

The birth trauma inquiry, triggered complaints about maternity services, will investigate the prevalence of trauma resulting from inappropriate or abusive treatment during birth. The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) raised objections to the use of the term “obstetric violence” and called for it to be changed. However, both RANZCOG and the AMA acknowledged the safety of birth in Australia and emphasized the importance of medical intervention when necessary.

The NSW Nurses and Midwives Association’s submission to the inquiry supported the claims of obstetric violence and birth trauma in the maternity system. They cited a survey indicating that 80% of members felt unable to advocate for women in their care successfully. The inquiry’s chair, Emma Hurst, defended the use of the term “obstetric violence,” stating that it aimed to address the experiences of Australian women and identify system-level reforms to improve maternity care.

Source: Australian Medical Association (AMA), The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG), NSW Nurses and Midwives Association (no URLs provided)