Being Born Is Big Business

Being Born Is Big Business

By Rob Pell

 In the 1980s, when our kids were born in Massachusetts, the medical lobbies were successful in making making midwifery illegal. Nonetheless, my wife chose to deliver our 4 children at home with a midwife’s help. Legally, that means our kids were born at a crime scene.Thankfully the statute of limitations has run out and we’re free to talk about our “crimes”.

Today, less than one percent of all births nationwide take place at home, and midwifery is still  illegal in 11 states. Elise Hanson, a certified midwife practicing in Eugene stated that the problem is: “There’s a lot of friction between the medical model and the midwifery model. Our system doesn’t allow a working relationship between midwives and doctors.” She cites the Netherlands as a case study in effective, integrative birthing practices. Thirty-five percent of babies being born at home in the Netherlands, and the relationship between midwives and doctors is cooperative, not competitive.

Most importantly, natural childbirth is empowering  for mothers and reaffirms that they are the ultimate authority about their child’s health & well-being.

The Huffinton Post wrote: “The United States spends $98 billion annually on hospitalization for pregnancy and childbirth, but the US maternal mortality rate has doubled in the past 25 years. The U.S. medical system ranks 50th in the world for maternal mortality, meaning 49 countries were better at keeping late stage pregnant women and new mothers alive.” See more

About one third of babies being born in the U.S. are now delivered by c-section. Dr.
George A. Macones, a spokesman for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said: “ The increased tendency to induce labor with drugs before a woman’s due date, for reasons of convenience, has helped push up the Caesarean rate, because inducing labor with drugs is more likely than natural labor to fail and result in a Caesarean”. “We should do chemical inductions for good solid medical reasons, not for convenience or the day of the week,” he said. Elective c-sections keep doctors from having to deliver babies nights, weekends, holidays or other inconvenient times.

Maternal deaths were a much more common tragedy 100 years ago. But after nearly a century of reductions in serious birthing complications, in the last 20 years, the rate of maternal mortality has increased about 50%.

In 1990, there were 11.5 maternal deaths per 100,000 births; today there are 16.7. Necessary cesareans can certainly save lives, but no matter how common this procedures gets, it’s still major surgery. And with that come major risks — pulmonary embolism, infection, hemorrhage and it can increase placental complications in future pregnancies. So the risk doesn’t end with this pregnancy. Countries that have the highest c-section rates also have high maternal death rates. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. Technology can be lifesaving, but overuse of that technology can be counterproductive.

Some states are getting it right. In Massachusetts a majority of the state’s birth centers recently banned elective C-sections and chemically induced labor except when there is a clear medical need. The move was based on numerous studies that found that such policies led to reductions in stillbirths and serious birth-related complications.

Another aim of the hospitals’ new rules is to shorten the time a pregnant woman spends laboring in the hospital, which frees up beds and save on health care costs. Women who go into labor naturally tend to spend about 10.5 hours in the labor and delivery unit compared with 22 hours for women whose labor is induced with drugs.Being born doesn’t have to be complicated.

Allowing  nature to take its course is safer and ultimately more economical.

Average total cost of  being born in different ways:

Midwife assisted,  at home or birthing center $2,000 to $3,000,

Hospitalvaginal birth $9,000, or C-section, over $20,000

In Southern Oregon the rate of C-section deliveries at Three Rivers Hospital in Grants Pass is 21%, slightly below the national average At Rogue Valley Medical Center in Medford the rate is about the national average at 36%

The Center for Disease Control recently reported that home births have increased 20% in the past four years. Studies cite the steady increase of Caesarean sections, and their high cost, as reasons women are avoiding hospital births.

The mere fact that the Center for DISEASE Control is in charge of monitoring data for the natural process of being born says a lot about medical attitudes in the U.S. surrounding birth.

Rob Pell owns and operates Sunshine Natural Foods in Grants Pass, Oregon
and has 35 years helping people with natural foods, products, exercise and healing.This article appeared in The Daily Courier 12-19-2012