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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Hospital's bullying of pregnant women outrageous » Ventura County Star

  • By Ina May Gaskin
  • Posted February 27, 2010 at 11:28 a.m.
  • Re: your Feb. 6 article, “St. John’s Pleasant Valley forbids midwife deliveries as of Monday”:

    Let’s be honest. The decision to take away the option for women to have a midwife-attended birth at St. John’s Pleasant Valley Hospital in Camarillo as of Feb. 8 had nothing to do with concerns for the safety of women or babies. If it had, the hospital would not have canceled privileges for midwives Lynn Olson and Joyce Weckl.

    There is plenty of evidence that indicates that putting midwives in charge of caring for healthy women during pregnancy and birth actually produces better results for mothers and babies with fewer interventions at lower costs than having an obstetrician (who is trained to deal with pathologies of birth, not with normal birth) be the sole caregiver for healthy women.

    There is no evidence that newborns or mothers at St. John’s were put at any increased risk because of midwifery care. Hospital CEO T. Michael Murray knew this, I suspect, or he would have presented some with his cowardly statement that rescinded the midwives’ privileges.

    A recent U.S. study showed that nurse-midwives spend an average of 24 minutes with a woman during each prenatal visit, compared with obstetricians, who spend only 10 minutes per visit on average. Another study of more than 4 million U.S. births found that midwife-attended, low-risk births had 33 percent fewer newborn deaths and 31 percent fewer babies born too small, which means fewer brain-damaged babies.

    It is well-known that midwife-assisted births are far less likely to be induced or to result in a Cesarean. No wonder approximately 60 women in the Camarillo area took advantage of this option last year. But that’s over now — at least in Camarillo.

    This bullying of pregnant women and midwives is outrageous; it is especially insulting to explain it as a “safety” measure.

    Without exception, the European nations in which 75 percent of births are attended principally by midwives (usually with no obstetrician in the birth room) have lower rates of newborn and maternal deaths than we have in the U.S. None of these countries spends nearly as much money per capita on maternity care as we spend, and in none of these countries are licensed midwives kept from working in hospitals providing maternity care.

    The U.S. is the only country among the highly industrialized nations that even has the concept of midwives who must beg for privileges, which can later be summarily withdrawn without any right of appeal…

    Hospital's bullying of pregnant women outrageous » Ventura County Star

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