“Much, though by no means all, of what has been written and spoken around childbirth revolves around fear. Policies and practice at both national government level and local hospital level have frequently been based on the idea of ‘risk assessment’.
The stark facts are that women and babies do suffer death and damage as a result of birth. This strikes us as particularly untimely, particularly tragic, particularly unacceptable. But the reasons it happens can be complex, and the effects of medical and social factors can be difficult to unravel. There is ample evidence to support the view that improvements in women’s health and birth outcome are more to do with factors such as housing, income, diet and education than to do with improvements in medicine, obstetrics, paediatrics and midwifery. However it is partly the result of a genuine desire to limit the risks to childbearing women and their babies that interventionist obstetric and midwifery policy and practice developed. They may also have developed for more sinister reasons to do with a conscious or unconscious desire to control women and their reproduction.
And it is acknowledged that policies and practices that are supposed to protect women from the risks of childbrth have often created another set of risks to their physical and emotional well-being.”
– Aspinall et al (1997)