Friday, April 10, 2009

MRSA infections at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston

Click the title above, and you'll be linked to an article about infection control at one of Boston's largest hospitals. The hospital was found in serious non-compliance with infection control protocols, resulting in staph and MRSA infections -- in mothers and their newborn babies in the labor, delivery, and maternity units.

I don't wish to bash the BI. Two of my three daughters were born there. I had good experiences there. I hadn't developed an interest yet in midwifery, doulas, and non-medicalized, normal birth; my care there was a good match for what I valued then. As I learned more about birth as a non-medical event, I chose not to return to BI for my 3rd daughter's birth, but I have no regrets about decisions I made in the past.

But the situation, which could probably happen in any hospital in the country, can prompt more discussion about out-of-hospital birth. A healthy woman with a healthy pregnancy who goes into labor spontaneously at term should have the right to a homebirth or non-hospital birth center with a qualified and trained midwife. In the comfort of her own home or in a home-like setting, with the intimacy of loved ones around her, she can move freely through labor, feed herself and drink to thirst as she needs to in order to maintain her strength, and allow her body to engage in the uninterrupted physiological process of childbirth. That kind of normal birth is not medical, so therefore doesn't need a hospital and the whole hospital package -- like infections due to non-compliance of infection control protocol, or medical interventions that are either unwanted or not truly medically necessary, which leads to further interventions, which can then create an emergency. At the risk of sounding prosaic, hospitals are for sick people.

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