New Editorial on Birth Choices
By Rachel Walden — December 15, 2008
We wrote earlier this year about the American Medical Association’s resolution on home birth, including the issues of autonomy and choice and the initial language specifically targeting Ricki Lake. The current issue of the journal “Birth” has an editorial, Home Birth in the United States: Action and Reaction (available by subscription only), from Diony Young further discussing this topic.
In her editorial, Young contrasts the AMA with the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada, which doesn’t take a position for or against home birth, but rather states that the Society:
“recognizes and stresses the importance of choice for women and their families in the birthing process. The SOGC recognizes that women will continue to choose the setting in which they will give birth. All women should receive information about the risks and benefits of their chosen place for giving birth…”
Young also notes support of home birth as an available choice from a number of organizations, including “American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM), American Public Health Association, Midwives of North America, Citizens for Midwifery, Coalition for Improving Maternity Services, Our Bodies Ourselves, and many other national and state advocacy groups.”
Young concludes that other issues in maternity care need improvement, and that professional medical organizations should direct their attention to these problems, rather than to opposing the home birth option, which fewer than 1% of U.S. women currently choose. She explains:
“Preterm and low-birthweight rates have been climbing for decades, unnecessary cesarean deliveries in healthy women are soaring, ethnic and racial disparities in care and outcomes are disturbing, women wanting a vaginal birth after a previous cesarean are denied it, maternal mortality rates are increasing, and other issues of quality and safety in facilities and services raise serious concerns. In the wake of the current efforts to outlaw home birth and regulate midwifery practice, I hope that the ACOG and AMA reexamine their priorities and use their resources and expertise to work on more relevant and pressing maternity matters.”
Relatedly, Young is one of the signatories of the Choices in Childbirth statement, which calls for the preservation of choice (such as VBAC options) and evidence-based care in birth.
Rachel, you forgot to add the the Royal College of Obstetrics & Gynaecology supports homebirth.
When will the powers that be wake up and see that implementing midwifery licensure and making the midwifery model of care available to more women will both improve the well-being of women and children while saving money. It’s a perfect solution to a HUGE problem and only the stubbornness of doctors, who have no evidentiary leg to stand on, prevents us from it. I had a homebirth in February that was an amazing, powerful, safe, wonderful experience. My daughter is breastfed and thriving at 9 months, and I am healthy and well, too.