08 February 2008

Home delivery is apparently just for pizza

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has just released a statement on their anti-homebirth position as a means of quietly confronting the 'popularity' of Ricki Lake's On The Business of Being Born. As can be expected from a group of highly paid doctors working in hospitals, ACOG states the most ideal model for birth is inevitably in a hospital with an obstetrician where risk can be managed. They say:

"Childbirth decisions should not be dictated or influenced by what's fashionable, trendy, or the latest cause célèbre. Despite the rosy picture painted by home birth advocates, a seemingly normal labor and delivery can quickly become life-threatening for both the mother and baby."

Not only does the ACOG discount all of the legitimate medical literature arguing for the benefits of homebirth, the idea that millions of American women are jumping on the homebirth bandwagon from seeing a movie is insane. If only this was the case! Despite the seeming popular appeal of homebirth, the fact is that most American women (about 99%) still give birth in hospitals and only about 1% of all births are 'alternative' with midwives, in birth centres or at home. Moreover, increasingly homebirth and midwifery are becoming harder to access in a number of states. A bill has passed through the Utah legislature that seeks to ban homebirths altogether and is just another way in which women's rights are being curtailed, providing fodder for the black market of midwives that is thriving in states across America.

According to ACOG, birth is just an emergency waiting to happen. It is a frightening proposition that this medical body says that they support a woman's right to 'choose' how she will give birth but implicit in that statement is the suggestion that if you decide to avoid intervention you are irresponsible. This raises very serious questions about what is considered to be 'high-risk'; increasingly having a big baby, a premature baby or a previous caesar are grounds for intervention whereas earlier they would not.

What's worse is that the high caesarean rate in America is attributed to pregnant women being too overweight and too old; ACOG places no responsibility for the 45% rate of caesars on obstetricians themselves. As Jennifer Block so convincingly argues in Pushed, the reality of hospital birth today is contingent on doctor's wanting short shifts, fast births and women to just shut up about it. ACOG speaks of midwives as if they are the devil's advocates and categorically state that as a result of their lack of comparable skills and inability to address 'high-risk' pregnancies, midwives are not to be trusted. What about all of the literature suggesting that birth with a midwife actually lowers caesarean rates?

In a nutshell, ACOG says in no uncertain terms: "Choosing to deliver a baby at home... is to place the processof giving birth over the goal of having a healthy baby." There is no 'right' way to give birth and to suggest that women are irresponsible for moving away from the medical model is an appalling abuse of biomedical power.

Source: http://www.acog.org/from_home/publications/press_releases/nr02-06-08-2.cfm


david santos said...

Hello, the Baby,
Thanks for your posting and have a good day

Steff said...

Glad you noted the ridiculous ACOG statement.

Have been meaning to reach out to share news of the new Big Push for Midwives Campaign in the States, about which you may have already heard. Today, the Big Push issued a PushNews Release in response to ACOG-in-the-wheel and their backwards statement on home birth. You can read on the newly launched PushSite.

Love your blog!
Steff Hedenkamp
Campaign Communications Coordinator
The Big Push for Midwives

herself said...

"Choosing to deliver a baby at home... is to place the processof giving birth over the goal of having a healthy baby." AAAAUUGGH!! What I wanna know is how can a respected organization that so many look to for facts and guidance be so IRRESPONSIBLE as to make such an accusatory, unfounded, INFLAMMATORY statement?

a. borealis said...

It should also be noted that the ACOG statement was conveniently released during January: where legislation for 15 states is in process, with bills specifically crafted to legalize access to midwife-assisted homebirths.

Talk about scare-tactics! It is ridiculous beyond belief. Meanwhile, hundreds of homebirthers either have to go it alone or risk their midwife being prosecuted and/or jailed.

AvoidTheRedShoes said...

Wow. In short: that really pisses me off. There are very VERY few expectant mothers who do not want a healthy baby. And those sensitive enough to look at options for a more gentle non-intervention birth are usually even more concerned about the health of their babies. Low-risk mothers are AT risk in hospitals. The nurses at my birth didn't even know what to do after a natural birth, they see so few. They wanted to give me a shot of pitocin to "help me" expel the placenta (this was only a couple minutes after birth) and thank goodness a midwife was there to tell them that that would be unnecessary for a woman with no drugs in her system who was currently nursing her child.

Cherryskin said...

But of course they would say that!! Homebirthing takes their business away, doesnt it? (Sorry, my apostrophes not working!

Creative Commons License
The Baby Bump Project by Meredith Nash is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.