So, I already had a chip on my shoulder about the American Medical Association. The American Osteopathic Association allowed women to practice as physicians way before the AMA did, and the AMA has tried to stop osteopathic physicians from practicing at one point. All of that is water under the bridge, but they apparently passed a resolution to try to ban home births, presumably in response to the success of Ricki Lake’s “The Business of Being Born”. (Hat tip, RH Reality Check, which is where I read it first.)
I can’t see why midwives and doctors can’t work more cooperatively here. There is successful cooperation between physicians and midwives in other medically advanced nations, like the Netherlands and England. With a shortage of ob gyns wanting to deliver, and skyrocketing malpractice rates, I can’t see why more doctors don’t leave the uncomplicated births to midwives, at home, in a birth center, or in a hospital.
The best births I ever attended were home births. Even the complicated one that reminded me of my own complicated birth, which was attended by a midwife, but took place in a hospital. The worst births, the ones that made me the most scared, were almost all at a hospital.
I went to the hospital with a fellow midwife student who was fully dilated at 28 weeks. We waited for the doctor on call at the hospital. We called before we even showed up and made it very clear how urgent the situation was. We waited. And waited. I was there with a midwife from our center, and the labor nurse happened to be a nurse midwife that we knew because she had graduated with one of our midwives. She was working at the hospital as a labor nurse, however, and was not there to deliver babies, just assist.
We waited almost 45 minutes. It only took us five minutes to drive there. Most home births happen within 20 minutes of a hospital. We waited for the doctor, and the NICU team waited patiently for the very vulnerable baby to come out. We called the head midwife at the birth center, and she said “That baby has to come out. Tell her to push.” The labor nurse / midwife nodded her head, and told her to push. The baby was born and whisked away by the NICU unit. The doctor showed up another 45 minutes after that.
I could tell you more stories about bad hospital births, but I am not just knocking hospitals. The issue I have with most of these stories is that the doctor is not there. The patient may be in the hospital, this magic building with the magic rooms and the machines that go ping, but the doctors are spread so thin that they are not there to help these women, and these are the HIGH risk women who can’t have a home birth. Seems like there is enough to go around.