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”?

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§ 4 Responses to ACOG Statement on Home Births

  • Nancy says:

    AAAARRRRGHHHHH.
    That makes me so mad.
    For me, choosing to have my baby at home was strongly influenced by my desire to have a healthy baby!
    But why would I listen to ACOG? Of course any statement they make will be selfserving.

  • halfpintpixie says:

    Wow, that’s a very OTT statement from ACOG. It would make you angry reading it.

    Over here some of the health boards run a home birth service (mostly in Dublin of course). The cynic in me knows that it’s because our maternity hospitals are over-full, but at least a good side effect is that the hospitals & government are willing to support home birth and not drive it underground! As long as it’s in Dublin of course, bitter…. me? No!

  • Wow…pretty strong position to be taking. But I can’t say that I’m surprised.

    To see an entirely different picture, visit:

    http://www.midwifeinfo.com/content/view/155/1/

    In this British-led study, over 5400 planned homebirths were studied and the results are supportive of what home-birth advocates have been saying for years. A planned home-birth for a low-risk woman is an excellent choice, with better outcomes overall, than a hospital birth. It is also significant to note, that this study was done with CPM’s (certified professional midwives..the one’s that ACOG says you shouldn’t choose).

  • Leila says:

    Yeah. Pretty silly but still maddening. What’s scary is that there may be people that will read this statement and think, “Oh. My friend is having a home birth. I should warn them that it’s not safe.”

    Shawn- Welcome! and thanks for the link.

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