Thursday, February 6th, 2014
Giving birth at a hospital–even under the care of a midwife–is less likely to result in infant death than giving birth at home, according to new research conducted using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The take-away from the study is not that women should avoid holistic care options like midwives and doulas, but that they should think twice about giving birth at home. More from Time.com:
A new study from researchers at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center presented at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine’s annual meeting, The Pregnancy Meeting, in New Orleans, found a growing rate of newborn deaths associated with home births.
That’s disturbing because the practice is becoming more popular in the U.S. In 2012, the CDC reported that after declining from 1990 to 2004, the rate of home births has increased by almost 30% from 2004 to 2009 (the latest years for which numbers are available).
Using CDC data collected from 14 million infant births and deaths, the research team learned that the rate of newborn deaths was greater for home births delivered by midwives (12.6/10,000 births) compared to births delivered by midwives in a hospital (3.2/10,000 births). The death rates were even greater for first-time mothers having a midwife delivery at home (21.9/10,000 births). Births in a hospital–even if delivered by a midwife, were still safer than home deliveries.
Taken together, there were about 18 to 19 additional newborn deaths from midwife home deliveries compared to midwife hospital deliveries. If home births by midwives continue to increase at the current rate, the researchers suspect that newborn mortality could almost double from 2009 to 2016.
Based on these findings, the scientists say that expectant parents should be aware of the risks of home births, and doctors should strongly encourage women who want to use midwives to deliver at a hospital. Many families choose home births because they believe that having their baby at home is more comfortable for both mom and baby; to accommodate them, hospitals could make their birthing experiences more welcoming and relaxing for mothers.
Image: Woman laboring at a hospital, via Shutterstock
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Friday, December 6th, 2013
Though they are far from typical, male doulas–professionals who help women through pregnancy and with labor and delivery–are seen more and more at hospitals across the country, The New York Times reports:
Meet David Goldman of Bellingham, Wash., the … “dude-la”? Mr. Goldman was certified as a doula last year by DONA International, the largest accrediting body of doulas worldwide. Although the group doesn’t track how many men have completed the training, officials there are aware of just a handful of male doulas among the 8,500 birth attendants it has certified since launching two decades ago.
The scarcity of men reflects a widespread perception that the role of a doula is seen as women’s work, even among many who wouldn’t hesitate to champion egalitarianism elsewhere in the workplace. Indeed, the topic of male doulas frequently draws skepticism — and sometimes biting criticism — in online discussion groups.
Some women say the presence of another male in the delivery room would just stress them, or their husbands, out. Others say that only women who have gone through the birth experience themselves can properly serve as birth assistants. Women are also typically seen as more nurturing than men, and thus better able to fulfill the emotional requirements of a doula’s job description.
A recent thread about male doulas on the DONA Facebook page showcased the sensitivity around this issue, drawing some uncharacteristic “disrespectful commentary,” said Sunday Tortelli, the group’s president and a doula in Cleveland, with many commenters saying it just didn’t “feel right.”
But Sharon Muza, who has instructed three men in the nearly eight years she’s been training doulas, among them Mr. Goldman (the other two men went on to become midwives), said that “men can be nurturing and caring and loving and bring every quality I would want in a doula.” She also noted that men may have a physical advantage. “They’re really strong and can apply counterpressure to a woman’s back or support someone who needs to be held up. That’s a wonderful bonus.”
Image: Male nurse, holding newborn, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, September 6th, 2011
Grammy-winning soul singer Erykah Badu loves natural childbirth. So much so that she’s been moonlighting for years as a certified doula, she told People magazine’s print edition.
Doulas use techniques such as massage to provide physical and emotional support to mothers in labor. The goal is to help women avoid pain medications and other medical interventions during childbirth.
And Badu hopes to soon add another title to her resume: midwife. She is working toward a midwifery certification so she can someday open birth centers in inner-city neighborhoods.
Badu discovered this passion in 2001, while helping a friend through a natural birth. “I’ve always had a mothering nature. But I didn’t plan on becoming a doula. I just wanted to care for my family and friends,” she said. “When I saw the baby, I cried. I knew what I was supposed to do with my life.”
She provides birth services for free. But this may be the very best part: The singer revealed that her clients call her “Erykah Badoula.”
Badu is mom to a 13-year-old son, named Seven, and two daughters, Puma, 7, and Mars, 2.
(image via: http://www.sohh.com)
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