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The Most Natural Thing in the World

While having a baby may be one of the most natural things in the world, a University of Western Sydney conference will further research into why increasing numbers// of Australian women want modern medicine to intervene in the 'risky business' of childbirth with C-sections, spinal blocks,amniocentesis, CVS testing.

The University is hosting, 'Risking birth: culture, technology, and politics in 21st century maternity care' - a conference organised by UWS, La Trobe and Deakin Universities. It's being held at UWS this Friday and Saturday, 23-24 June.

Experts from around Australia will discuss the politics of maternity care - issues such as society's constructions of childbirth, obstetricians' views on maternity care, the shifting role of midwives, the safety of birthing services for Indigenous women in remote communities, and the rise in medical negligence cases and litigation.

The conference is bringing together speakers from across the disciplines, including midwifery researchers, registered nurses and health specialists, obstetrics professors, medical anthropologists, sociologists, and medical litigation lawyers.

Conference co-convenor, Dr Alphia Possamai-Inesedy from the UWS Social Justice Social Change Research Centre, says Australia is going the way of other western countries, with higher rates of intervention during pregnancy and childbirth, particularly among women from wealthier socio-economic backgrounds.

"Recent statistics published by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare show a rise in caesarean sections from 18 per cent in 1992, to 25.4 per cent in 2004, with even higher rates in the private sector.

"Some researchers predict that in a few years, the majority of babies will be born by surgery," says Dr Possamai-Inesedy.

"Today's consumer-driven, desire-for-perfection society has constructed pregnancy and childbirth as a very risky business. Women are bombarded with
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