Monday, July 12, 2010
Observed while walking through the parking lot at my local Whole Foods yesterday, the following bumper sticker:
Perhaps there is some hidden political agenda there, but I thought it was chuckle-worthy.
Who knows, once the health insurance reform bill reaches its full flower in 2014, maybe more women with low-risk pregnancies will opt for home delivery with midwives. Of course, if OB/GYNs have been litigated out of existence by then (with respect to child birth), that may be the only option. My father was born in his parents' first home near the University of Pennsylvania campus, and it didn't seem to hurt his longevity, as he lived well into his 90s. It's the small portion of challenging deliveries which require all of the technological advantages of a modern hospital, and, as I understand it, a pregnancy can appear to be completely routine throughout the term and still end with a complicated delivery.
A cynic might say that midwifery (or home vs. hospital) highlights two conflicting themes within modern liberalism -- on the one hand, a sense that technology somehow disconnects humans from a more genuine and primal experience, and leads us to endlessly pollute our planet; and on the other hand, extreme risk aversion and the belief that government should act to mitigate all risks, especially those related to health care.
There is also the chance that I am overthinking a somewhat funny bumper sticker.
We have at least one if not two in my subdivision. I haven't heard any horror stories yet. The idea of home delivery is a bit risky to me but I wasn't the one having the kids either. I guess is you don't want pain meds, want to be in your own environment and want to forgo the idea of suing the delivery Dr when your child has downs or some other malady then go for it, but don't bitch when things go sour and you are looking for compensation from deep pockets. mpw
I think if some women want to opt for midwifery that's their choice but one I wouldn't make for myself -- too many things can go wrong even when pregnancies have been uncomplicated and seemingly pose no unusual concerns. And, believe you me, hospital deliveries can be "primal" enough for anyone's fancies.
A close relative was a midwife, after having been an ob-gyn nurse for many years. She worked out of a big name inner city hospital -- Columbia Presbyterian -- so all the emergency coverage was there, if needed. She quit after many years and is now in administration.
She found she was too easy a target for lawsuits. Not being a credentialed doctor, she was negligent per se ... at least the complaints said so.
From experience (as a father), I would be extremely reluctant to rely solely on a midwife, at a home-birth. And not because of any bad experience with midwives -- my brother was born at home, with a fine and competent midwife, and that went perfectly well. But my own son would certainly have died at birth (and probably my wife, too), if we had tried to deliver him at home, midwife or no. After a perfectly normal pregnancy, the last part of the delivery required the skills (and tools) of a trained doctor. (An excellent doctor, and a mother herself, too.)
Due to the enormous liability that midwives face, a lot of midwives are moving into the role of "doula", which is basically a woman who is experienced with births (probably a mother herself), who stays with the mother constantly and helps her, and can articulate what the mother wants in stressful situations, etc.
A lot of hospitals now allow doulas during the birth. Ours did, and it was a tremendous help to my wife. If you are going to give birth, and you have some choice in selecting hospitals, ask around about their doula policies. Some hospitals are still reluctant, but many are becoming much more friendly to having non-professionals help during birth. It's a big relief to have someone who can stay with the mother the entire time -- the doctors necessarily need to rotate through, and see a lot of women.