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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Monday, January 30th, 2012
A new report from the National Center for Health Statistics has found that more mothers are choosing to deliver their babies at home, CNN.com reports:
Between 1990 and 2004, the number of women who were choosing to give birth at home steadily declined. But in 2005 the trend turned, according to a new report released by the National Center for Health Statistics on Thursday.
The number of home births in the U.S. jumped by 29% from 2004 to 2009. Although home births are still rare – they account for less than 1% of all births – this is a pretty rapid increase, said Marian MacDorman, statistician at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Forty, 50 years ago, there was this idea that hospital birth was more modern. Now it’s the opposite.”
The biggest increase was in non-Hispanic white women. About 1 in 90 births in that segment of the population is now a home birth, according to the report. Home births are most common among women over the age of 35 who have already had at least one child.
The data doesn’t tell us why home births have increased, MacDorman said, but she can take a few educated guesses. Cost may be an issue; on average, home births cost about one third less than hospital births. Another reason may be dissatisfaction with the care women in labor receive at a hospital. Doctors and nurses are busy, often caring for more than one patient at a time whereas at home, a woman can have a midwife attending only to her.
In July, a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published similar findings, citing further statistics that found 12 percent of home births required medical transfer to a hospital.
Image: Pregnant woman in bed, via Shutterstock.
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Wednesday, July 6th, 2011
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Citing concerns about high rates of Cesarean sections and other medical interventions, the impersonal nature of hospitals, and negative past experiences in hospitals, the number of women who are choosing to birth their babies at home rose twenty percent between 2004 and 2008, according to a report released in May by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2008, just over 28,000 home births took place at home, which still only accounts for less than one percent of total US births. But the rise in numbers over recent years is unmistakable.
The Associated Press reports:
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which certifies OB-GYNs, warns that home births can be unsafe, especially if the mother has high-risk conditions, if a birth attendant is inadequately trained and if there’s no nearby hospital in case of emergency. Some doctors also question whether a “feminist machoism” is at play in wanting to give birth at home.
But home birthers say they want to be free of drugs, fetal monitors, IVs and pressure to hurry their labor at the behest of doctors and hospitals. They prefer to labor in tubs of water or on hands and knees, walk around their living rooms or take comfort in their own beds, surrounded by loved ones as they listen to music or hypnosis recordings with the support of midwives and doulas. Some even go without midwives and rely on husbands or other non-professionals for support.
The article goes on to say that in 1900, an estimated 95 percent of births took place at home. By 1935, that number had dropped to half of all births, and by 1955, less than one percent of mothers had home births.
A 2005 study found that 88 percent of home births in the US and Canada had positive outcomes, while 12 percent of women were transferred to hospitals–9 percent for preventative reasons, 3 percent for emergencies. That study also showed the infant mortality rate was 2 out of every 1,000 births, about the same as hospitals.
(image via: http://www.pinenutoil.org/)