Double Dose: Inside Baltimore's Home Birth Underground; This Week's Feel Good Story; Medical Students, Papayas and Abortion Training; Medical Care in Immigrant Prisons ...

By Christine Cupaiuolo — July 4, 2008

Home-Made – Inside Baltimore’s Home Birth Underground: “Disenchanted with a medical system that treats birth as an emergency instead of an emergence, seeking an alternative to the tubes and wires and monitors of a high-tech birth, some women are stepping outside of the hospital to have their babies. And some say their numbers are growing,” writes Michele Gienow in the Baltimore City Paper.

While the headline makes it all seem very radical, the women interviewed consider themselves pretty mainstream. And Gienow does a terrific job of bringing in various viewpoints and plenty of medical statisitcs:

No studies exist for unattended births like Jimmy Gaffney’s, but there are dozens demonstrating that, in low-risk pregnancies, home births attended by a midwife are as safe for mother and baby as going to the hospital. The largest and most scientifically rigorous home-birth study to date, sponsored by the Canadian government, followed all 5,418 planned home births across the United States and Canada attended by Certified Practical Midwives in 2000. The authors concluded that babies are born as safely at home as they are in the hospital, and with vastly fewer interventions like cesarean section, the use of forceps, or episiotomy; other recent studies, including a 1995 study of 11,788 intentional home births under midwife care published in the Journal of Nurse Midwifery, have reached the same conclusion.

Despite evidence that it is safe, “I think some people shy away from home birth because of the responsibility,” Alana Gaffney says. “If you’re at home, attended or unattended, and something happens to the baby, it’s your fault for not seeking appropriate medical care. But if you go to the hospital and something happens, you’re guilt free. No one is going to say anything to you — it’s just one of those things that happens.”

Beyond “The Curse”: Jessica at Feministing wonders: Where are the cool, progressive ads about women’s health?

The Week’s Best Feel-Good Story: New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof shares the story of recent Connecticut College graduate Beatrice Biira, who credits her academic journey to a goat named “Luck” that was donated to her family in Uganda through Heifer International.

Beat the Heat: I admit I turn into a slug in hot, humid weather (a slug with a margarita, that is); sticking with outdoor exercise is tough when the temperature soars. In this article on how to beat the heat, Gina Kolata asks — and answers — some important questions:

How long does it take to acclimate to the heat and humidity, and what is the best way to do it? How much does your performance time slow when it is sweltering and humid, and why? Does it help to douse your head with water? Should you go out in the morning, when it is cooler but the relative humidity is higher, or at night, when it tends to be hotter but less humid? The answers, some exercise physiologists say, are not always what you might expect.

On the plus side, not exercising may make you less appealing to mosquitoes, but not if you like margaritas …

Papayas Fill Gaps in Doctors’ Abortion Training: K. Aleisha Fetters writes at Women’s eNews:

With instruments in one hand, hundreds of medical students took papayas in the other. Inserting a speculum into the tapered end of the uterine-shaped pieces of fruit, they injected them with numbing medication and gently scraped away their seed-filled lining.

This, they learned at the 15th annual meeting of Medical Students for Choice, is how easy it is to perform an abortion, a procedure that many of their schools will never teach them.

Check out the rest of the story about the decline of abortion providers in the United States and the work of Medical Students for Choice.

Immigration in the News: The National Coalition for Immigrant Women’s Rights sent out a highly informative summer update with links to immigration stories in the news, as well as coalition and legislative updates. Unfortunately, it appears to be available only via email. Here’s an excerpt from the news round-up:

The Washington Post recently ran a four day series, Careless Detention: Medical Care in Immigrant Prisons. These stories provide an overview of the immigration issue, descriptions of the terrible medical ordeals immigrant detainees face, accounts of neglect for those immigrant detainees with mental illness, and reports of the U.S. government drugging detainees for deportation, to name a few.

A kosher meatpacking plant in Iowa was the site of the largest immigration raid in U.S. history in May, which involved nearly 400 workers, including 18 juveniles. 306 workers now face charges and some have already been deported. On-the-ground advocates, while looking into the raids, have also discovered that many of the female workers at the plant were sexually harassed and exploited. Many women were coerced into giving sexual favors in exchange for a promotion or a shift change, and those who refused were given more difficult tasks or unwanted shifts.

The Tucson Weekly reports that rape has become a routine price to pay for immigrant women crossing the Mexican-American border.  The UN reports that 70 percent of women crossing the border without husbands or families are abused in some way. Women find threats of sexual assault from both the men that they pay to take them across the border and those that control deportation and green cards. On May 3rd, three women were raped, two of them minors, and one woman was gang bang raped by six men.

Uninsured Young Adults: Young adults, age 19-29, have the highest uninsured rate of any age group and account for 29 percent of the uninsured in the United States. The Kaiser Family Foundation has published a paper that examines health coverage for young adults, as well as their health status, access to care, and the financial burdens they encounter when paying for care. It also provides an overview of public and private approaches to expand health coverage for young adults.

On Your Feet: Ever wonder exactly how wearing high heels affects your body? This Washington Post graphic shows the effect on feet, ankles, knees and posture. Included are links to a number of related stories, such as this overview on how wearing the wrong shoes affects foot health, and advice on how to be kind to your feet.

They’re not the newest stories, but I just found out that excruciating pain I get when wearing heels (or even hiking downhill) is Morton’s neuroma, so I was kinda curious to learn more. This week I’m in Vermont, so it’s all comfy summer sandals here! … Happy 4th to everyone!

One response to “Double Dose: Inside Baltimore’s Home Birth Underground; This Week’s Feel Good Story; Medical Students, Papayas and Abortion Training; Medical Care in Immigrant Prisons …”

  1. to my surprise, was impressed by the depth of coverage on home births in balto city paper. now if jessica at feministing would get onboard for a revived women’s health movement rather than longing for “cool progressive” advertising concerning our bodies, we could move in the right direction.

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