Friday, February 22, 2008

The Homebirth Debate has reached Newsweek

The news magazine Newsweek has published a new article discussing the choices available to birthing women.

The authors describe the various types of care providers: OBs, Certified Nurse Midwives and Certified Professional Midwives.

The articles brings up some important points.

1) Cesarean Sections can be life saving when used appropriately, but the current rate of 1 in 3 pregnancies ending in C-section is being questioned.

2)The hospital transfer rate for planned out of hospital births is less than 10%.

3)The most common reasons for hospital transfer are not emergency complication like most people think, but because of maternal exhaustion and the mother choosing to go to the hospital for pain relief.

4) Women have choices when it comes to birthing. Making those choices more accessible is important.
In some states, the homebirth option is prohibited to women because they don't have access to home birth midwives or those midwives act underground, straining tensions between families and hospitals. The article states that women and babies are put at unnecessary risk when their choices are not honored.

The article also leaves out an important point. It states that women should be diligent in doing their research and make choices that they are comfortable with. But its ignores that accurate information is hard to come by. Hospitals are rarely upfront with their intervention rates making it difficult for women to make an informed choice. There is very little transperency in the maternity care system. Its also difficult to find statistics (for the non research, journal oriented mama) that clearly depict the actual rates and risks. Women can be told to do their research, but in the flood of information regarding pregnancy and birth options, there needs to be a concerted effort to make the important information available and accessible. The blog site Birth Activist illustrates this point well.

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