Saturday, May 16, 2009

Time Magazine discusses homebirth

I found this online today. I'm not sure if it appears in the print version as well. Unfortunately, the article only mentions nurse-midwives, and it is a major oversight to omit the rigorous training of professional midwives who are licensed in 26 of our 50 states.

It has some sentences that seem promising enough at first glance: "Modern medicine can eliminate a lot of the risk (of childbirth)but in doing so, it can also turn what could be a joyous experience for the mother into the equivalent of an all-day appendectomy." But while the sentence acknowledges that many women are losing the joy of birth, the sentence doesn't acknowledge that modern medicine may create -- not eliminate -- risk in childbirth with unnecessary routine interventions and restrictive protocols. Also, deservedly categorized as "high-risk" are the premature births, but how many of those premature births could have been avoided had they not been caused by inductions before 42 weeks gestation, under the seductive guise that a scheduled birth is less stressful than a spontaneous one? Medically, a baby is full term at 37 weeks, but what if that baby wouldn't have been born until 41 if left on his own? That is 4 weeks his lungs would have had to mature in the safety of the uterus.

But the article does a good job highlighting some of the more-often discussed indications of why homebirth is a safe option, referring to the Oregon study and the British Medical Journal findings. It also makes a fair statement about why OB's may be "soured" on the entire concept of homebirth, as they only see the births that become complicated. OB's are never brought in on the homebirths that are progressing as normal, unmedicated, physiological labor should -- which is most of them! But combine that with our country's zeal for litigation, where there is zero tolerance for a less-than-perfect baby, it doesn't seem so unreasonable for an OB to be unsupportive of homebirth.

What I find most heartening, though, is that this article has appeared in Time -- hardly the publication of Radicals. Homebirth is slowly, slowly making its way into more and more women's menu of birthing options. Homebirth is also facing grave opposition, but I remain ever hopeful.

(cross-posted on the Massachusetts Friends of Midwives blog)


Gwendolyn said...

It's amazing how people are so negative about home births. If they were so dangerous, our race would have never made it to this century in the first place.

I'd be having a home birth with this pregnancy if I weren't 37, diabetic, etc.

My biggest goal is to have the hospital follow my birth plan and also avoid a c-section, which one person at MGH already assumed I'd be having!

Maria @ A Mom Is Born said...

Gwendolyn, thanks for commenting on my blog! Do you plan to have a doula at your birth?