Some of you may be aware of the “Big Push for Midwives” campaign that is on-going.
Yesterday, this article came out, talking about how physicians are continuing their anti-midwives smear campaign to the airwaves.
I have to say that when I read this: “During the segment ACOG reiterated its claim, which has been thoroughly debunked by a large and growing body of medical literature, that out-of-hospital delivery is unsafe. Describing women who choose to give birth in private homes and freestanding birth centers as “hedonistic” mothers who knowingly put the lives of their babies at risk for the sake of an “experience” they believe will be like a “spa treatment,” members of the group echoed last year’s position statement claiming that women who choose out-of-hospital deliveries base their decisions on what’s “fashionable” or “trendy.”, I became quite offended.
I don’t know about you, but I make medical decisions for my family based on research. More to the point, on EVIDENCE BASED research.
Though I am not one of the majority of women who have birthed in Southeast Texas via c-section, the alarmingly high rate (43.7% in 2004 and rising) of cesarean births was a primary motivating factor in my decision NOT to birth my second child in a Beaumont hospital. We opted to birth in Houston, a 2 hour drive away.
The nearest hospital is aproximately 7 minutes away from my house. We have an ambulance station less than 2 minutes away… from a “prepared for an emergency” standpoint, birthing at a local hospital would have been ideal. Unfortunately, I know that I cannot have the birth that I want in our hospitals. That leaves me with the options of either birthing at a hospital or birth center in the Houston area, or birthing at home.
I want to clarify that when I say “the birth that I want”, I’m not asking for anyting unreasonable. I want to be able to move around, walk, not be “required” to be strapped to uncomfortable monitors that also “require” that you be fairly still lest the monitor slip and not pick up the baby’s heartbeat. I want to be able to eat something if I get hungry, not be forced to go for 12 or more hours doing the mos intense work I will ever do while letting my body feed on it’s own reserves (which is not ideal for my health or the baby’s). I want to be allowed to make progress without being tied to the clock ( a rate of 1 cm per hour as the hospital’s “policy” requires is outdated! Read this!!), and also without the ‘threat’ of pitocin if my labor is not progressing ‘fast enough’ – and I want the determining factor on ‘fast enoough’ to be out of concern for my baby’s health, not because it’ almost shift change. I want to have only the people that I want around me, privacy and respect for my space and the goings-on within it, not a stranger with cold hands who knocks once and then comes in without my permission and does things that interrupt my process (I’m just going to check your blood pressure – why don’t you get out of the focused mental space you’re clearly in and accomodate me for a minute?). I want to feel loved and respected while I am birthing, not like I am taking too long or that I am burdening you because I don’t want your “policy” to interfere with my birthing.
Knowing what I know now, I want to be in MY space, where *I* call the shots (with the help of my doula, and under the care and advisement of my midwife).
So, that said, why all the fuss about homebirths? Let’s research a bit, shall we?
If you’ve seen “The Business of Being Born”, then this is familiar territory for you. If you haven’t seen it, then I highly recommend that you check it out.
Prior to 1900, ALL babies were born “at home”. Ther wasn’t an alternative, and though there were some losses (as there still are today), the attendants at those births were skilled in assisting a birthing mother use her body’s own work to get the baby out. They knew how to walk and physically support a laboring woman, how to keep her in the mental headspace to accomplish the taxing job of birthing a baby. They were there with hands-on support to guide her emotionally and respect her wishes regarding her own body.
Then comes the new profession of “medicine” and those interested in practicing it. Like mama always said… they call it “practicing” because they haven’t perfected it yet! With the new field of obstetrics, all these highly trained doctors now need patients – but how can they “practice” their craft if all these midwives are taking up all the pregnant women? How did they go about changing that? Unfortunately for us today, the AMA went on a smar campaign to sway the public into believing that “granny midwives” were unskilled. “Unskilled” apparently means “dis not go to medical school”. I know many midwives and doulas and other birth professionals who “did not go to medical school” that I would choose to assist me in the birth of my baby presicely for that reason.
Skip ahead to today. I have heard many people gasp in (awe? horror? shock? admiration?) disbelief when they find out that someone is planning or had a homebirth. Why is that so shocking? Is it as ACOG says, that women today are dumb enough to birth outside the hospital because it is fashionable? Or is there more to it? Do these women know something that ACOG doesn’t? More importantly, I think the real question is, ‘Why is ACOG so desperate as to resort to name-calling in an attempt to discredit women?’.
I love this quote (from the above article):
“ACOG clings to this ridiculous fantasy that women choose to deliver their babies outside of the hospital because they want to be like Ricki Lake, Demi Moore or Meryl Streep and that if women would only watch enough fearmongering stories on morning television they’ll be brainwashed back into hospitals,” said Katherine Prown, Campaign Manager of The Big Push for Midwives. “Insulting our intelligence and promoting policies that deny us choices in maternity care are not exactly winning strategies for stemming the tide of women seeking alternatives to standard OB care.”
You tell ’em, Katherine!
For additional reading, we suggest:
Midwifery: A History by Illysa Foster M. Ed.
Listen to Me Good The Life Story of an Alabama Midwife by Margaret Charles Smith and Linda Janet Holmes
The History of Midwifery and Childbirth in America: A Time Line Prepared by Adrian E. Feldhusen, Traditional Midwife
American Medical Association Apology Sparks Discussion on Race Posted by Christine C.