(NaturalNews) St. John's Pleasant Valley Hospital's recent ban on midwifery has been met with impassioned community protests at its sister hospital, St. John's Regional Medical Center. In early March, protester signs exclaimed, "St. John's we want our midwives back," and "Our Babies, our Births, our Choice." Critics of the recent ban value the important niche that midwives occupy within a birthing world dominated by obstetricians. More expectant mothers are exercising their right to give birth in a more relaxed, drug free, less costly and, arguably safer environment.
In the past 20 years, the amount of women giving birth with a midwife has doubled. Heidi Teeple of San Anselmo, California had baby Logan with her husband and two midwives at home where they set up a bathtub for the birth in the couple's living room. "It was much more relaxing," said Teeple. "There was no anxiety about when to go to the hospital."
Obstetrician-led births are increasingly being viewed as an unnecessary cost and a cash cow for hospitals. One in three births now involves a cesarean section, among the most costly of medical procedures. In 2008, national costs for a cesarean section averaged $14,894 versus $8,919 for vaginal births, according to a recent article in the Boston Globe. In contrast, home births can be limited to modest midwifery fees.
Of greater concern than costs is the rise in maternal mortalities. In California, the mortality rate of women dying during pregnancy has tripled in a decade, according to the report authors from California Watch which conclude: "it's more dangerous to give birth
in California than it is in Kuwait or Bosnia." Major causes cited include obesity and complications from cesarean sections. Post-cesarean births pose even greater risks due to scarring that can cause birth complications. In response, natural birth advocacy groups such as Birth Connections are supporting the growing
trend toward vaginal births after cesareans (VABC).
Many argue that childbirth had been taken out of its natural setting. European journalist, Evita Ramparte, who is spearheading a Media Campaign for Conscious Motherhood, explains, "In Europe, women deliver with midwives
. Midwives handle most deliveries naturally, with great success! Doctors intervene only in emergencies. In America- it's exactly vice versa! Midwives are pushed to the margin, and instead young, college-graduates ob/gyn swat teams assist at regular birth. It seems America has trained far too many obstetricians, and far too few midwives."
As the protesters outside of St. John's hospital demonstrate, many Americans agree with Ramparte's observation that childbirth does not require ob/gym "swat teams." Before women visited hospitals to give birth, midwives and other informal specialists helped pregnant mothers deliver their babies. Anthropologically speaking, some women in different cultures (including parts of New Guinea and Africa) have been known to successfully give birth by themselves, without assistance from doctors, midwives, or family members.
The statistics clearly support a growing preference for natural child birth. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the number of women giving birth with a midwife has been steadily increasing since 1975 and has doubled since 1990. St. John's ban may be a result of insecurity from doctors. "Are doctors feeling insecure? They surely should be, seeing how peacefully babies are born without their high-tech interventions," notes Ramparte.www.boston.com,
"The high cost of caesareans" http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_...www.msnbc.com,
"More mothers choose midwives for delivery" http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/13062835/www.vcstar.com,
"Protests continue till questions answered" http://www.vcstar.com/news/2010/feb/27/prote...
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