When searching for ‘news’ about midwives today, I came across this article which was originally published in 2003. I have no idea how it popped up on this week’s google news, but it did. Named “An Illegitimate Birth” it chronicles the life path of a direct-entry midwife while simultaneously following a couple through prenatal care, and then a water birth. It was a beautifully written story. I should have guessed that it wasn’t from this day and age, as it’s rather lengthy and delves into the issues, and creates a mood-rather than just delivering sound bites. In my opinion, it’s a must-read for anyone considering midwifery as a profession, or a midwife assisted home birth. I wish I knew the name of the ‘real midwife’ as I would love to know what she is doing today. I looked up the current Illinois direct-entry midwife laws hoping they had changed, and found that indeed they haven’t but are (ironically?) back in the legislature THIS WEEK.
Did you know that in 1940, 44% of births were home births? In 1969 (my birth year), the percent of home births was just 1% and has remained that low until recently. The trend of out-of-hospital birth (one that happens either at home or in a free-standing birthing center) has increased by 3% since 2004 (up until 2006-which is the latest data they have). In 2006, 61% of home births were delivered by midwives—16% by certified nurse midwives (CNMs), and 45% by other midwives.
The title says it all. Today, Medscape released a paper ‘Science and Sensibility’ outlining the recent studies related to the safety of home birth vs. hospital birth while discussing the barriers that home birth practitioners, and women who want home births are facing.
Recently, women are choosing or are interested in home births at a greater rate than in the past several decades. The paper discusses ‘planned home birth’, which refers “to the care of selected pregnant women by qualified practitioners within a system that provides for hospitalization when necessary.”
Today it was announced that Wyoming is seriously considering passing a bill that would allow midwives to legally practice in the state.
A Virginia attorney, Andrew Emrich who moved to Wyoming was dismayed not to have the option of a home birth midwife when his wife became pregnant with their fifth child back in 2005. It was then he learned that ‘midwifery is illegal in Wyoming’.
On Nov. 9th their was a protest outside the Australian Prime Minister’s office. Apparently the Australian government has announced its intention to make amendments to the Medicare for the Midwives Bill that will force private midwives who attend home births to work in collaboration with a doctor.
This excerpt from the report:
Australian College of Midwives president Jenny Gamble told protesters an amendment to the Medicare for Midwives Bill will give doctors the choice about how women give birth.
The American College of Certified Nurse Midwives (ACNM) and Midwives and Mothers in Action (MAMA) and other organizations that support Certified Professional Midwives (CPM’s) appear to be having quite a tif.
In July, the ACNM submitted a letter to members of congress opposing Federal Recognition of CPM’s for serving Medicaid and Medicare recipients. At first glance this might seem like a cat-fight, so I thought I would highlight the issues.
Even though the ‘special investigation’ concluded what many studies have shown….that home birth or birth with a midwife is as safe, or safer than hospital birth, the slant of the story was hideously skewed and the main interviewees were a grieving family who lost their daughter to cord compression after a particularly arduous labor. My favorite line of the whole ‘report’: “Homebirth had become almost the equivalent of a spa treatment for women, that it was this sort of hedonistic concept of birthing.”
August 31, 2009 was a great day for midwifery and home birth. Another study was released by the Canadian Medical Association comparing midwife assisted home birth with hospital birth.
Interpretation: Planned home birth attended by a registered midwife was associated with very low and comparable rates of perinatal death and reduced rates of obstetric interventions and other adverse perinatal outcomes compared with planned hospital birth attended by a midwife or physician.