ACOG Statement on Home Births
February 8, 2008 § 4 Comments
February 6th, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) released a statement that applies more fear on pregnant women regarding home birth and birth in general. They state that “[c]hoosing to deliver a baby at home… is to place the process of giving birth over the goal of having a healthy baby.” This is what I was talking about the other day. The process of giving birth affects the mother for the rest of her life. Just ask anyone who has had a traumatic labor. Giving birth encompasses physical, emotional, mental and spiritual realms. Just the other day I was talking with a friend who, in telling me her birth story, said that she is still processing what happened and that she was not happy with the way it went. She doubts herself, her body and its ability to birth. She is told by well-meaning family and friends that “at least she has a healthy baby”. That does not console her. Nor has that phrase consoled every woman. Why does it work on some and not on others? I won’t try to unravel that one but I do have to say that there is a lot more to birthing than having a healthy baby. The laboring woman is still a woman after the birth. She may or may not feel like she is a mother for some time, though her feelings for her baby may be healthy. She may still need to process what she just went through with other supportive mothers in order to find her place within the world of motherhood.
Why would ACOG put out a statement when they have no real reason to restate their beliefs? Could it be Ricki Lake’s documentary The Business of Being Born? Or the advocacy campaign for midwives? ACOG’s statement smells of fear. But why should they fear women having babies at home if it weren’t for money. Do they fear that they will be out of a job if everyone decides to have a home birth with a midwife? Are they afraid their equipment will rust and their high paid anesthesiologists will go elsewhere to practice? or that their notoriety for being a “great hospital” despite soaring c-section rates will wane?
Among other similar comments, they state that women’s decisions regarding childbirth “should not be dictated or influenced by what’s fashionable, trendy, or the latest cause célèbre.” If you look back in history you’ll see that the use of chloroform was made popular when Queen Victoria used it during the birth of Prince Leopold in 1853. Elective cesareans became more popular when the media began to wonder if Posh Spice had scheduled labor with her 3 children at times when her husband, David Beckham would be in town. Another thing that’s interesting is that today’s OB’s just don’t know how to do what midwives are trained to do. For instance, most OB’s would rather perform a c-section than try to turn a breach. Why? Tina Cassidy says that it’s because of two reasons. One is because “the malpractice risk is too great” and because they simply don’t have the training. A midwife would rather try to coax the baby into a more ideal position before sending the woman off to a c-section fate.
I have to add that I don’t think that all interventions are bad nor are they wrong. There is a time for them. I do think that unnecessary interventions are to be questioned. More often than not, hospital staff will “ask” the laboring woman what they should do. They will tell her that the baby’s heart beat is erratic and that if she wants to labor naturally (without drugs or other interventions) that she will put her baby at risk and they both may die. What woman would say, “I’ve heard what you’ve said and I’d rather go the natural way, even if my baby dies.” Nobody would say this. And yet some do and they have completely healthy babies AND a more positive experience to welcome them into motherhood.
The statement is short. Read it yourself and come back and leave me a comment. Do you think, for instance, that “[c]hoosing to deliver a baby at home… is to place the process of giving birth over the goal of having a healthy baby”?