Science – or a PR campaign? Why Americans give birth in hospitals.

JazzyThanks to shows like “Call the Midwife” and births of royal babies like little Charlotte, delivered into the hands of midwives, where and how women give birth is getting some attention.

A recent Boston Globe article titled “Call (back) the midwife” explores why it’s normal in England (and many other places, frankly) to have babies delivered by midwives. They have a saying that encapsulates it nicely: “Every mother needs a midwife, and some women need a doctor, too.

In June, the Atlantic published a piece called “Call the midwife,” looking at the rise in midwife-attended births. That piece includes this bit of information:

Historically, Declercq says, the fields of obstetrics and midwifery have had a tense relationship, stemming back to the early 20th century, when obstetrics was just rising as a specialty. At that time, spurred by the increasingly popular belief that pregnancy was a dangerous condition requiring care from highly trained specialists, doctors and public-health reformers joined together in a concerted effort to eliminate traditional midwifery. Many U.S. states began to strictly regulate or forbid the practice.

So what if that “increasingly popular belief” was actually just a really good PR campaign from a trade association??

The Boston Globe article points out

Now, the British National Health Service has gone as far as to recommend healthy women with low-risk pregnancies are better off out of the hospital, giving birth at home or at a midwife-led birthing center. American obstetrician Dr. Neel Shah, a professor at Harvard Medical School, set out last spring to rebut that counsel in the pages of the New England Journal of Medicine. Instead, his article ultimately argued that giving birth outside a hospital with a midwife could be safer and much cheaper for many American women, too.

 

Hmmmm.