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Midwives Say Limiting Their Freedom to Practice Hurts Mothers, Children, Low-Income Families

Health & Wellness  (tags: abuse, americans, AlternativeMed, babies, death, diet, disease, drugs, food, healthcare, medicine, midwife, prevention, protection, safety, society, women )

- 2068 days ago -
According to Amnesty International, the US presently ranks 50th in terms of safe labor and delivery. Said another way, this means that women in 49 countries have better birth outcomes than women in the US of A. "Deadly Delivery," a 2010 Amnesty study-->

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Kit B (276)
Sunday August 19, 2012, 8:18 pm
(Photo: Alice Proujansky / The New York Times)

Each year, more than four million babies are born in the US, the lion's share of them in hospitals. Indeed, childbirth is the most common reason for hospitalization within the 50 states.

It wasn't always this way. At the turn of the 20th century, more than 95 percent of newborns entered the world at home, with the aid of midwives. Today, however, the tables have turned. According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, less than 1 percent of births are presently done outside hospitals. In fact, in 2009, only 29,650 were tallied. Surprisingly, this tiny number represents a 29 percent jump, from .56 percent of births in 2004 to .72 percent five years later.

Before we address this trend, let's step back. According to Ina May Gaskin, winner of the 2011 Right Livelihood Award - aka The Alternative Nobel Prize - and the so-called "mother of modern midwifery," midwifery fell out of favor following its demonization in the decades after the Civil War. "Midwifery was destroyed a century ago, in large part, because US midwives had not organized and established midwifery as a profession. The anti-midwife propaganda campaign carried out by organized medicine was not countered by any collective argument from midwives. This is why medicine was able to destroy midwifery with so little expense and effort," her web site states. Add that era's pervasive xenophobia and the fact that most midwives were European-born and trained and you had an ample breeding ground for political backlash. In addition, doctors argued that the pain of childbirth would be diminished if "modern" obstetricians in "modern" facilities handled it. The campaign worked: By the middle of the 20th century, most states had outlawed midwifery, and in-hospital births, attended by university-trained male physicians, became the norm. Female midwives, who had practiced for decades, were shunted aside.

The results have been horrific.

According to Amnesty International, the US presently ranks 50th in terms of safe labor and delivery. Said another way, this means that women in 49 countries have better birth outcomes than women in the US of A. "Deadly Delivery," a 2010 Amnesty study that was updated last year, reports that despite annual expenditures of $98 billion, 12.7 of every 100,000 American women die in childbirth. Predictably, if we look at communities of color, rather than overall numbers, the findings are worse: Women of color are three to four times more likely to die giving birth than their white counterparts.

Midwives and natural childbirth advocates agree that poverty, poor nutrition, inadequate prenatal care and substance abuse factor into the maternal death stats. At the same time, they add that the medical system itself is at least partially culpable for the deplorable numbers. By treating pregnancy as an illness to be cured, they argue, medical professionals typically bristle at the idea of letting nature take its course. Instead, nearly one-third of babies - 32.9 percent, more than double the 15 percent recommended by The World Health Organization - are presently delivered by Caesarian section (C-section). According to Gaskin, this puts women at risk of infection and is rarely needed. "U.S. women today face at least double the chance of dying from pregnancy or birth-related causes than their mothers or grandmothers," she wrote in her 2011 book, "Birth Matters." "No one can point to any real gain that has come from the increased numbers of surgical births. We can't say, for instance, that it has made birth safer for babies. Credit for the reduction in newborn death rates that have taken place since the seventies belongs to innovations in neonatology, not to higher C-section rates." (continue reading at Visit Site)

By Eleanor J Bader, Truthout | News Analysis

Jason S (50)
Sunday August 19, 2012, 9:16 pm

Rosie Lopez (73)
Monday August 20, 2012, 1:33 pm
thanks for sharing!

mar l ene dinkins (264)
Monday August 20, 2012, 1:58 pm
noted thnx

Amanda A (201)
Monday August 20, 2012, 3:11 pm
I will do everything in my power to NOT have my baby in a hospital. There's a very eye opening documentary called "Pregnant in America" I urge people to watch it.

Seda A (4)
Monday August 20, 2012, 8:42 pm
thank you

Phillipa W (199)
Monday August 20, 2012, 8:53 pm
Sadly, other countries, like mine, are copying the US. I've just been told I can't homebirth my child. But the hospitals don't even offer proper facilities for birth. Government midwives are so far and few between and so tightly regulated it's ridiculous. Now we all have to have an obstetrician! Even when we are having a home birth (so far I've had 2 who were eager to attend my birth who were later told not to). Independent midwives aren't insured so many aren't even practicing. And sadly, many midwives seem to be of the mindset that everything needs a doctor, everything must be monitored, that it is them birthing a baby, not the mother. Antenatal classes are completely inadequate and focus heavily on drugs.

It's like we're living back in the 50's. So backward.

Past Member (0)
Monday August 20, 2012, 9:07 pm
Thanks for sharing.

wendy webber (28)
Wednesday August 22, 2012, 4:32 am
When I was pregnant (1975) I spoke to my Dr. about getting a midwife and birthing at home. He flipped out and said "I got into this profession to lower the infant mortality rates (he must have forgotten about me) not raise them". I was young (22) and unfortunately did not push the issue. His reaction freaked me out a bit too (all knowing Dr. and all, even tho I did not really believe that). The irony in this story is water broke a month early,I called the Dr. and told him I would hang out at home til contractions started etc...I lived in the same city as the hospital.I could have walked to it.He ranted on about infection's not like I was rolling around in a pile of cow manure?! I went into the hospital later that night, Erin was in no hurry to be born and they "induced" the next day at noon.I did not want this because I knew it would be harder on Erin and myself.I had "rooming in" so Erin was with me as much as possible in those days.All of a sudden things started getting chaotic on the floor just before I left.They had a Staph breakout in the nursery!!!!! All the babies had to be moved.I was on my way out the door.Here they were all freaked out by my waiting at home until well timed contractions began...infection and all you know.I have been horrified to learn over the yrs about the mortality rate of mothers in this technologically advanced country of ours.I have known women who have "dates"to have their babies.The Dr. can make dates of convenience for C-sections. Business as usual as I see it.
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