Birth is a primal instinct for women and has been since the beginning of time. However, through the years women have lost their confidence to give birth naturally without drugs and medical intervention.
Many women today have feelings of apprehension and fear when they think about childbirth. They have not grown up in a supportive community of women who have shared that birth is a natural event and that they possess everything they need to give birth without drugs and medical intervention. Instead, they have grown up in an environment of misinformation that comes from the media and the medical profession. On the other hand, “The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth” by Henci Goer, an award winning medical writer and certified childbirth educator, provides the latest scientific findings on childbirth. This fact-based information helps women make informed decisions about their maternity care.
Another key book, “Born In The USA: How A Broken Maternity System Must Be Fixed To Put Women and Children First,” is written to educate not only women and their families, but also obstetrician/gynecologist physicians, hospital personnel, and those who make public policy. The author, Dr. Marsden Wagner, is a physician, a scientist, and the former Director of Women’s and Children’s Health at the World Health Organization. He is an insider willing to reveal the abuses of the present maternity care system.
This vicious cycle can dramatically change through education. Women are not told that their bodies were designed to give birth and their experience can be rewarding and satisfying, even joyful. But, instead, they are told that they cannot give birth without medical intervention, drugs and machines. This misinformation often leads to negative outcomes for women. Education is a woman’s best defense against unsafe childbirth practices and essential to esuring they have the most rewarding birthing experience possible.
Too often women are not aware that they have choices, but instead get caught up in the schedules and practices of hospitals, doctors, drugs and misinformation. Through education, women learn that they can they can have a safe and satisfying birth experience without drugs with a doctor or a midwife and a doula, in a hospital or at home.
The Midwives Model of CareThis model is based on the fact that pregnancy and birth are normal life events, and includes:
- Monitoring the physical, psychological, and social well-being of the mother throughout the childbearing cycle
- Providing the mother with individualized education, counseling, and prenatal care, continuous hands-on assistance during labor and delivery, and postpartum support
- Minimizing technology interventions
- Identifying and referring women who require obstetrical attention
The application of this women-centered model has been proven to reduce the incidence of birth injury, trauma, and cesarean section.
(Copyright © Midwifery Task Force, Inc.)
When a woman gives birth in a hospital there is a high probability that she will be given drugs, be hooked to machines and have other medical intervention. Often the drugs and medical intervention lead to even more drugs and sometimes a cesarean. One in three babies were delivered by cesarean in 2006—over 31.1 percent in the nation. Many hospitals across the nation have cesarean rates as high as 50 percent. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that cesarean rates less than 10-15 percent are acceptable. Ina May Gaskin, a certified professional midwife at The Farm Midwifery Center, in Summertown, Tennessee reports that of the 2,200 babies born at The Farm, 96 percent were delivered without medical assistance. Their cesarean rate is less than 2 percent.
The Massachusetts Coalition for Midwifery is made up of three organizations that joined together to improve the practice of midwifery in Massachusetts. At this time, the midwives have worked for six years to get the Senate Bill 1251 and House 2142 passed. The bill will set standards for the practice of midwifery in the State of Massachusetts and regulate the practice of Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs), Certified Midwives (CMs), and Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs). This bill will offer pregnant women the choice of having their babies under the Midwives Model of Care, however as of today, the bill has not yet passed. The biggest obstacle is the opposition of Massachusetts' obstetricians.
Of 4.3 million babies born annually in the U.S. only 5 percent are natural childbirths. Over 90 percent of all infants in the U.S. are born with drugs, such as narcotics from epidurals, pitocin, acetaminophen, etc. in their systems and these drugs have never been tested for safe use in infants. The long-term affects are unknown although it is documented that the infant mortality rate in the U.S. is 40th highest in the entire world. There is something terribly wrong when the U.S. spends over $50 billion dollars on childbirth, more than any other nation in the world. This dollar amount does not include babies in NICU or the readmissions during their first month. Also, the U.S. has the 14th highest maternal mortality ratio among developed nations.
Through education based on facts, and not myths or scare tactics, along with access to the latest medical studies, women will be able to compare and contrast their options and avoid unnecessary procedures and drugs. Women will learn that they have the choice to give birth at home with midwives and doulas, if they chose to do so, and not be forced to endure the negative practices at hospitals. Also, education will empower women to change negative practices in the maternity care system so that those who want to have their babies at the hospital will be safe and treated with respect. Through education, women will also regain their confidence and trust in their bodies’ ability to give birth and believe that nature has it right.