The American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM) has a motion on the table to change its name to the American College of Midwives (ACM). While there has been talk about this change for years, there may finally be enough support to approve the motion at the upcoming annual meeting in San Antonio. Much internal discussion of the politics surrounding the name change and how it may affect direct-entry midwifery has been occurring privately — I would like to move the discussion into a more public midwifery arena.
I interviewed homebirth midwife Hilary Schlinger CNM, CPM about the proposed name change and her vision for the future of midwifery in the US. Hilary has a long history in midwifery politics as both a CPM and CNM. She has served on the Midwives Alliance of North America board of directors and is the author of Circle of Midwives, a book about the history of the Midwives Alliance of North America and the resurgence of midwifery as a profession in the United States.
My first response to ACOG’s press release for their newest “Committee Opinion” on homebirth was, like many of you, what’s new? Remember the last opinion statement in 2008, the one that accused women of caring more about their birth experience than the safe arrival of their child, and attacked homebirth as a trendy cause celebre? (Because, before hospitals, women birthed their babies where?). This one appears to be slightly less aggravating although they’re still squeezing as much as they can out of the flawed and infamous Wax analysis published last year.
Last month we saw the pre-release of a homebirth meta-analysis piece that claimed worse outcomes for babies born at home than in the hospital. I wrote about it and the ensuing Lancet insult to women’s rights here. Decades of well-conducted research does in fact support the safety of planned homebirth for women and babies, although here in the US the research has fallen on deaf ears among physicians, their trade union ACOG, and hospitals. In light of the solid new research of the past few years clearly demonstrating the safety of homebirth, how likely is it that “evidence” will ever win the medical industry’s approval of midwife-attended homebirth? I am doubtful. Here’s why.
I’ve held off commenting on the now notorious, and as of yet unpublished, Wax homebirth meta-analysis and the ensuing hullabaloo because I had wanted to keep negative birth politics to a minimum here on my blog. Then, the viscerally disturbing Lancet editorial came out a few weeks ago and WHOA. We’re starting to see some of the anti-homebirth roots coming to the surface. It’s time for each and every inspired individual to speak up.
A number of smart science minds have already broken down the methodological flaws of the Wax meta-analysis into comprehensible nuts and bolts so I won’t expound upon its junk science here, suffice it to say the authors’ conclusion of a tripled increase in neonatal mortality in homebirth is a gross misrepresentation of the actual data. Based on the ongoing anti-homebirth and anti-midwife smear campaign, one might reasonably surmise the misleading conclusion was crafted to incite more anti-homebirth rhetoric among the medical community.