Imagine a woman in labor at the hospital. How she is moving? Where is she in the room? What is she doing? Probably you see a woman lying down in the bed, wearing a hospital gown, hooked up to various monitors, straps and tubes.
In some high-risk labors these procedures may truly be necessary for the safety of moms and babies (or for women using epidural medications). Most healthy low-risk women do not need to be hooked up to anything in order to safely birth a baby. Imagine how different hospital birth would be if most women could move around as they pleased without any sensors or straps attached to them. Imagine women moving instinctively, following their own inner rhythm and positioning themselves in ways that made their bodies feel powerful, relaxed, and productive.
Women typically spend spend a large portion of their labor hooked up to machines in bed while laboring in the hospital.
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.