Tuesday, February 17, 2009

More frothy excitement about the Home Birth Safety Act

For those with interest and access, at 2:00 pm CST today, the South Dakota House will vote whether to "strike the not" from the "Do not pass" decision from the Health and Human Services committee from last week. If they choose to "strike the not", then the Homebirth Safety Act will be immediately debated on the floor. It should be very interesting.

If you have RealPlayer installed on your computer, you can listen to it live on the 2009 Session Committees page of the South Dakota Legislature. [You know I'm going to be glued to the computer!]

Advocates are expecting for the "not" to be stricken, as the bill had to be "smoked out" [a minimum vote from the floor] to even get to this point. For some perspective, the Homebirth Safety Act, which would give SD legal access to Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs), has never passed the Health and Human Services committee, nor has it been successfully "smoked out". The medical lobby is extremely strong in SD.

The fact that we are at this point this year means that (1) the grassroots campaign is gaining in numbers and strength, and (2) the legislators are starting to listen to their constituents and actively research this issue instead instantly dismissing it as "unsafe".

I listened to the Health and Human Services committee on the Homebirth Safety Act last week - the opposition presented themselves strongly, but were, at times, downright deceptive. One of the medical lobbyists gave a "fact" that 1-in-4 births have complications and should therefore take place in-hospital. What he failed to note, however, is that this is a hospital-based statistic. What this does explain is the nationwide c-section rate, which currently hovers around 30%. It has absolutely no bearing on midwife-attended homebirths. (Not to mention a very big reason why many women are choosing homebirths.)

Again, for perspective: the World Health Organization recommends a 5-10% c-section rate. This number is reasonable, and leaves room for true medical necessity. In the USA, the c-section rate for in-hospital births is 30% - more than three times the ideal. Additionally, this number has gone up 50% in the past decade. [Outrageously fishy, or what?!] Certified Professional Midwives, which are trained for the homebirth setting, have a c-section rate of 4%.

The reason for this low number is threefold: (1) Midwives work with low-risk, i.e. normal pregnancies, only. CPMs transfer care when they detect anything that moves a pregnancy out of the realm of low-risk. (2) Midwives are proponents of "natural birth". They believe in spontaneous vaginal delivery and do not induce, which often starts the domino-effect that leads to fetal distress and sectioning. Nor do they administer drugs, which can slow labor down and result in a "failure to progress". (3) Midwives are supportive throughout all of labor. They are by the side of the laboring woman, providing assistance and helping her work towards the end goal. I also believe that women in their own homes are more relaxed, which aids a gentler birth.

Ultimately, advocates for CPMs are not insisting that everyone give birth at home - they just want the option. And, outrageously, in South Dakota, people don't have the ability to choose this option. CPMs are arrested, prosecuted, and jailed for attending a birth at home. Families either (1) go it alone, or (2) cross the borders of the state to Safe Houses for a home-like birth experience. Neither of these are ideal choices.

And finally: a personal disclaimer. Because I am so enthused about this particular issue, I have found that many of my friends and acquaintances feel as if I will look down at them for choosing a hospital-birth. This is NOT the case. I am naturally exuberant and take quite quickly to championing causes I believe in. (But I don't have to tell you that...LOL) My main goal is to make sure that people know there are OPTIONS. I have talked with so many women who were upset about their experiences giving birth. It doesn't have to be like this! Do your research. Talk to your peers and elders. Know that there are choices outside of what is presented to you as a cultural norm. And then...decide for yourself.

Much love and NO JUDGEMENT from this girl...
a. borealis (aka - you know my name)

1 comment:

Sandy said...

You go girl! Although I haven't had a homebirth, I've had two natural births. The first I had to speak up for myself (with an OBGYN) and refuse to get an automatic IV plunged into my skin after being admitted. I wanted to move around freely! After that experience, I got a midwife the next time. We had (emphasis HAD) a great Alternative Birthing Center at W&I Hospital in Providence where there is a bedroom, livingroom setup -- with a very a- home feel. My whole family could be there (and whoever else I wanted for that matter) -- it was all in my control. Unfortunately that has been closed to make room for MRI type money making equipment. Sad.