A recent article in the New York Times claims midwives have become increasingly popular healthcare providers because they’re a status symbol. Apparently, upper middle class women are no longer too posh to push. Instead, they’re posh enough to take over the childbirth market with demands for personalized, family centered and wellness oriented prenatal, labor and delivery care. Hallelujah! If midwifery care has become the hottest trend, I say there’s hope for the American birt
Despite marked differences in their approach to childbirth, it's now clear that obstetricians and midwives working together can offer the best of both worlds.
Eight years ago when I had my first son, I initially met with an OB-GYN recommended to me by a friend. I adored him—as well as his partners: a dynamic team of certified nurse-midwives. After learning that midwives tend to spend a lot of time with patients, have relatively few patients who require Cesarean sections and also encourage medication-free deliveries, I decided to have a midwife from the practice deliver my baby.
Midwives are being “rediscovered” by growing numbers of pregnant women today. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, in 2006 (the most recent figures available), they attended a record-busting 317,168 births—7.4 percent of all U.S. births; 96.7 percent of them took place in hospitals, 2 percent in birth centers and 1.3 percent in homes. To help you decide whether to go the midwife route, here are answers to some of the most common questions.
What advantages do midwives offer?
Home births constitute about one percent of all deliveries in the US and a much higher percent in other parts of the world. That’s about 40,000 American babies born at home and doesn’t include mothers who planned on having a homebirth, but for one reason or another, ended up transferring to a hospital.
Well, as you may have seen from the announcement here, Tucker was born almost two weeks ago! The days since have passed in the expected blur, with my mother-in-law coming to cook and help out when we got home from the hospital, and then my mom coming out from Oregon this week. We are sleep deprived and in a bit of shock, I think, but elated.
I thought I’d share my birth story, in case anyone was interested.
“A women was denied coverage because she had a baby with a medically mandated Cesarean section,” said U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., after federal health reform legislation passed in late March. “When she tried to get insurance coverage with another company, she was told she had to be sterilized in order to get [it]. That will never, ever happen again.” Here are other ways in which the new law benefits pregnant women, new moms and babies, in order of implementation:
Indulge me, will you? I feel like I’ve been in labor myself lately. I’m working on a fundraising project and it’s been a tougher job than I anticipated, primarily because everyone has already given generously to Haiti. And yet, the opportunities to help a sister out are endless and Haiti is but one of the many places in the world where women aren’t safe giving birth. This is another Labor of Love.
Last week, my niece was born. She was born at home, in a birthing tub, surrounded by midwives, doulas and family. When we heard she was here we were quiet more than jubilant. Somehow, knowing our niece had been born, and knowing--as we now know--what childbirth and childrearing entail, we weren’t in cigar-smoking, champagne-popping mode. Happy, yes. Delighted to have a new niece, relieved and happy and proud to know the home birth had gone well. And….pensive.
Former TV host Ricki Lake’s older son, Milo, was born 12 years ago in a New York City hospital. “After so many months of preparation . . . I was never in control. I had wanted to feel everything, but all I remembered of labor was fear and panic,” she writes in the preface to Your Best Birth. Shortly thereafter, Lake became a self-described birth junkie; and five years later her second son, Owen, was delivered at home, in water, by a midwife. “I chose to go against much of the advice given to me and did what I wanted, and it turned out even better than I expected,” she writes.
My best friend from high school's mom, Janette O'Sullivan, is a midwife. Starting at age 15, I've had a pretty serious education in women's health and natural childbirth--and when I worked at a magazine, I helped edit the pregnancy section. So you could say I knew a lot about pregnancy and birth by the time I was having a baby.