I was saddened as I read this article from ABC news about ACOG, the AMA, and homebirths. ACOG, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, has obtained the backing of the AMA for their “Resolution 205”, which basically states (erroneously) that planned home births are not safe. And they’re proposing legislation on this issue.
Medical doctors are a vital part of health care. But they are not the only piece of the puzzle, especially when it comes to childbirth. When a healthy woman has a planned homebirth with a qualified midwife in attendance, the outcomes are just as good as hospital births. With homebirths, the rate of intervention is far lower, maternal satisfaction with the birth process is higher, and the cost is dramatically lower. Several European countries have fantastic outcomes with large numbers of their population choosing homebirth.
Our son was born at home two months ago. His birth was far from easy. I was in continuous labor for 45 hours, and there is no doubt in my mind that had I been in hospital and uneducated about childbirth, our son and I would have been subjected to Pitocin at the very least, and more likely, a c-section. Our midwives were very competent. They checked the baby’s heart rate regularly, and it never faltered. Had there been any indication of an actual medical problem, they would have taken me to a hospital. But a long, painful birth in an of itself is not a medical problem. Unfortunately, ACOG would disagree – they like to impose artificial time frames on a natural process that was never set up around a clock or a doctor’s schedule. For some women, this is fine. For me, it is most certainly not. While I strongly believe that homebirth is a better option for healthy mothers, I would never dream of saying that all healthy women should have to give birth at home. I understand that this is a very personal decision, and that each woman should be able to labor and birth where she is most comfortable, and have access to competent, licensed caregivers, regardless of where she chooses to give birth. It seems that ACOG and the AMA do not want to offer me that same measure of respect. It’s painfully clear that this is a turf war, and the conflict of interest for ACOG and the AMA is glaring like a neon sign. Every woman who chooses to give birth at home with a midwife means one fewer patient for ACOG. That’s pretty much the whole story. Research indicates that safety is not compromised when healthy women choose to give birth at home. And midwives generally don’t accept unhealthy women or high risk pregnancies. So ACOG and the AMA have chosen to take the undeniably sleazy route of hiding their primary interest (money) under the thin disguise of being concerned about the safety of mothers and babies.
Since homebirths are so much less expensive than hospital births (we paid our Colorado-registered midwife $3000 for the birth and all prenatal and postpartum care), you would think that health insurance carriers would have a vested interest in crying foul with regards to Resolution 205. But I guess they would rather pay for hospital births. I find it sad that ACOG is so determined to squeeze every possible dollar out of the birth industry. If Jay and I decide to have another baby, we’ll have another homebirth. And since I would refuse all intervention in a hospital setting anyway, would they really want me in their delivery ward for 45 hours, scaring away all the other patients with my yelling? Maybe they should rethink this…