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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Thursday, August 22nd, 2013
A new research review finds that women who receive consistent care from midwives during pregnancy have better outcomes than those who see family doctors or obstetricians. This review, conducted by the Cochrane Library, found that moms who saw midwives were less likely to need medical interventions or to give birth prematurely.
More from The Huffington Post:
The reviewers looked at 13 trials of more than 16,000 women who saw a small team of midwives throughout their pregnancy, or one primary midwife. Eight of the trials included women who were at low-risk for complications during pregnancy and birth, while five included higher-risk women. All of the midwives were licensed in their respective countries, and none of the trials looked at home births.
On the whole, women who saw midwives throughout their pregnancy were less likely to have an epidural painkiller, an episiotomy (an incision made from the vagina to anus during delivery), or a delivery using instruments, such as a vacuum or forceps. There were no differences in Cesarean birth rates.
Women who received continuous care from midwives also were less likely to have a baby before 37 weeks of gestation, or to lose their babies before 24 weeks.
Notably, higher-risk women who saw a midwife as their point-person did not have worse outcomes than low-risk women — a discovery the researchers interpreted with cautious optimism.
“This is an important finding, because it means that midwives have something to offer women who are not low-risk, when they are coordinating care with a primary care physician or an OBGYN,” argued review author Jane Sandall, with the division of women’s health at Kings College, London.
For now, the researchers can only guess why continuous midwife care seems to confer important benefits.
“Having someone who is there for you, who you know is going to be there at your birth is important to women,” said Sandall. “Because women know their midwives, and they’re often easier to get in touch with them, the midwives are picking up any problems sooner and helping women get the right specialist input as early as possible.”
Image: Newborn baby and mom, via Shutterstock
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Monday, June 25th, 2012
A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting that nurse midwives are more popular among pregnant women than ever before, with 8.1 percent of all the births in 2009 being attended by a midwife. Thirty-nine states have seen an increase in the number of midwife-attended births, according to the study, which was published in the journal Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health (JMWH).
“The growing number of midwife-attended vaginal births in the United States may be a reflection of the increasing recognition of midwives’ expertise in the management of labor in vaginal births. As many mothers express their concern with the high cesarean rate in the United States, it is likely the demand for midwives will continue to rise,” said the JMWH report’s author, Eugene Declercq, PhD, Assistant Dean for DrPH Education at the Boston University School of Public Health. “While still far below the rates of midwife-attended births in other industrialized countries, this is nonetheless good news for those mothers who want the choice of a midwife as their prenatal care provider and birth attendant.”
Image: Midwife with pregnant woman, via Shutterstock.
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Monday, June 18th, 2012
A feature in The New York Times tells the story of midwifery in New York City, once relatively uncommon but now bone fide “status symbols” on par with trendy preschools and high fashion. From the Times:
Are midwives becoming trendy, like juice cleanses and Tom’s shoes? It seems that way, at least among certain well-dressed pockets of New York society, where midwifery is no longer seen as a weird, fringe practice favored by crunchy types, but as an enlightened, more natural choice for the famous and fashionable. “The perception of midwives has completely shifted,” said Dr. Jacques Moritz, director of the gynecology division at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt and a consulting obstetrician for three midwife practices. “It used to be just the hippies who wanted to go to midwives. Now it’s the women in the red-bottom shoes.”
And like any status symbol, a pecking order has emerged. Just as getting your toddler into the right preschool requires social maneuvering, getting into a boutique midwifery clinic has become competitive.
“We constantly have to turn women away,” said Sylvie Blaustein, the founder of Midwifery of Manhattan, a practice on West 58th Street that has its share of well-heeled clients. Opened in 2003, the practice now has six midwives on staff. “Because of the quality of care, we can only deliver about 20 babies a month.”
“It sounds bizarre,” Ms. Blaustein added, “but midwifery has become quote-unquote trendy.”
Image: Pregnant woman, via Shutterstock.
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Friday, May 18th, 2012
The number of mothers worldwide who die during pregnancy or childbirth has plunged over the past two decades, a new report released by a consortium of United Nations agencies has found. The New York Times reports:
Maternal deaths fell to about 287,000 in 2010, the report said. The decline is attributable to increases in contraception and in antiretroviral drugs for mothers with AIDS, and to greater numbers of births attended by nurses, doctors or midwives with medical training.
The agencies said the deaths had fallen by 47 percent from the United Nations’ 1990 estimate of 543,000, but the organization has been revising its historical estimates in response to skeptical research by a rival group of epidemiologists at the University of Washington.
Image: African mother, via Shutterstock.
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