Monday, June 30, 2008

At Home Birth and Choice

Many bloggers have covered the decision from the American Medical Association (AMA) last week surrounding their proposal to author legislation that would ban home birth. The AMA has not given an indication as to what the penalty for giving birth at home would be, but it would be against the law - so one can only imagine.

On a lot of the blogs there has been debate over whether home birth is safe, whether midwives have enough training, whether the AMA decision is faulty or not. I think that the argument should not be over these issues, but rather over the issues of choice. I simply boils down to "what is the choice of the pregnant woman?" Not allowing women to give birth at home, something that has been done since the beginning of time, restricts their reproductive choice. This doesn't settle well with me.

I have a good friend who gave birth at her home. It was her choice, she had a low risk pregnancy, and was prepared to welcome her daughter into the world in a safe and comfortable way. Her daughter is 6 and beautiful and while I wasn't there for the birth, hearing stories of this amazing time can give me goosebumps.

I also have two sister who have given birth in hospitals, both with low risk pregnancies, both in comfortable settings, both welcoming perfect little infants into the world. The stories and memories of these births give me goosebumps as well.

My friend and my sisters were able to chose how and where to have their children. Lets work to make sure that women can continue to do so and not make having children illegal.


Midhusband said...

Greetings Oklahoma Voice of Reason,

My paternal grandmother moved to Bakersfield, CA from Durant, OK in the years described by Steinbeck’s “Grapes of Wrath”.

In large part, I agree that the correct point of view here is that a woman has a fundamental human right to birth as she sees fit. I find it remarkable how the leadership of ACOG/AMA can perpetually make awful decisions. These are the people who are supposed to be experts in women’s health. I don’t think they are listening to women; although, they did make a good strategic decision in having a woman OB introduce the Resolution.

At the same time, the subject of safety is important in this conversation. Outcomes for healthy women experiencing normal pregnancies are equivalent for both planned home and hospital deliveries. Considering all aspects of safety, planned home birth can be considered safer than hospital. Far too frequently, women are afraid to discuss their birthing decisions for fear of being judged.

Planned home birth for women and families is not illegal in Oklahoma; however, the primary caregiver supporting women who choose to birth at home (the Certified Professional Midwife) is not licensed in OK and therefore illegal. The ACOG/AMA strategy is to make the environment so onerous that women will abandon their birthing rights and simply go into hospital. Their position is counter to health and counter to safety.

Women in Oklahoma are traveling out of state to birth. Midwives in neighboring states are traveling to OK to attend women. My understanding is that Oklahoma is not focused on addressing your access to care problems by licensing CPMs. There are many ways to obstruct liberty. Even if the ACOG/AMA regret their ill-conceived resolution, the women of Oklahoma are being oppressed and denied normalcy, liberty, safety and access to care.

Russ Fawcett
Legislative Chair, North Carolina Friends of Midwives

Pixie LaRouge said...

Okay, so I'm behind in my reading :)

This is the topic that forces me out of lurker-hood and into commenting. I am a very avid, rather loud home birth advocate. Well, obviously, since my last baby was born at home as the hospital birth with my first wasn't such a good thing.

And you're exactly right. It's about choice. I chose a home birth the last time since the hospital removed all my choices. The usual procedure in hospitals in this country takes the ability to decide how to birth out of the hands of the woman who is actually birthing and puts it firmly in the hands of the hospital policy makers, forcing everyone to dance to their tune - moms, doctors, nurses, even the kind, usually elderly candy stripers who bring fresh water. It's ridiculous!

Here in Oklahoma, we're lucky. CMs, CPMs and CNMs are all allowed to attend home births without having to drop-and-run at the ER door in case of emergency like they do in some states. We also have a loud voice in the midwives and their supporters in this state that will (hopefully) continue to give avert legislation that would change that state of things.

My daughter, just 4 while I was pg with my baby, announced she wanted to be a midwife when she grew up. When asked why, she replied, "So I can help all those women and hold all those babies. Besides, it's a feminist occupation."

Maybe some of the next generation "get" choice and equality. Maybe she'll grow up in a world where equality doesn't have to equal "sameness" and everyone gets to make their own choices...

Anonymous said...

Hi, won't give me an option of childbirth I like. I have to lay on my back (which sucks when pushing), I'm automatically hooked up to machines, and im not allowed to walk. they take everything away from you. homebirths however you can walk around, your not.hooked to a machine, and you cab push in whatever position is comfortable. in my opinion I try to avoid hospitals in my town, they all suck. I would choose a homebirth over a hospital birth.

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