Thursday, December 31, 2009

Home Birth Advocates Triumph Over Opposition

In the beginning of December, 2009, a friend shared a link with me to an article Oprah's website about alternative birth methods. The informative article covered the pros and cons of birth centers, home birth and discussed the growing numbers of women who are searching for a more "hands on" approach to prenatal care and labor. They were doing so by seeing midwives, hiring doulas, and over all becoming more involved in the process of learning about and planning for their birth. Hurray to self-advocacy!

After reading the article and scrolled down to the comment section. Just published, there were only three. One in particular, stood out strong. I'd seen her work elsewhere online and shuttered as I read her anti-home birth claims. This woman's (a retired doctor, actually) view of birth is that it is so "inherently" dangerous, that she's actually on a campaign against home birth.

I had to write something. Had to push back.

I couldn't stand the thought of women being scared out of the option to birth at home because of one woman's opinion. Unfortunately, there were a limited number of "characters" or words, one was allowed to post. So I did what I had to do - I wrote up a short version there, and a longer version at my blog at My Best Birth. I used the doctor's name in the title of the post, hoping to draw her out of the 'internet woods' to see and comment on the article. I knew if she had Google Analytics, she would be notified that her name was typed in my blog, bringing her attention to the My Best Birth (< that is a link to the article) community.

Well, it worked. The same day, there was Amy, commenting on the post. This was December 3rd. Over the days, and weeks a passionate discussion unfolded. I watched, stunned as the thread hit 100 comments, 200, and finally resting at over 330. Ricki Lake sent me a private message thanking me for taking the subject on and Tweeted the link to her fans. Countless contributors shared their thoughts, bringing the community of home birthers together tight through arguments and bitterness, insights and a lot of new information was brought to light.

For now, it seems the debate has come to a close. I made the last comment, taking stock and making a summary of what we'd learned. Here it is:

"Whew, Amy, you are piece-of-work. Seriously...did you read my entire post or only what you wanted to read in order to post this trash? I didn't actually say that we "won." Here, I'll re-post if for you:

"...but there is definitely improvements to be made in the educational standards to make sure ALL midwives are providing safe care to their patients. And we have agreed that there is also much work to be done on the hospital front. We've also come to the consensus that the relationship between midwives and doctors needs to be improved for the complete well being of mother/baby.

Until these measures take place (and it will be a long process, but we should PUSH for all of it!) we can only do our best to encourage new mothers looking into home birth to do their due diligence when finding a midwife by spreading information - by being teachers and "mothers of mothers" both online and off."

I even went on to thank you for your participation (through clenched teeth, might I add).

Let us agree to disagree. Because, for one, we don't believe childbirth is inherently dangerous. That's just not the first thought that comes to mind when thinking of childbirth or labor. We like to think of it as sacred, special, intense, challenging, beautiful, natural and have respect for the process.

Throughout this conversation, our eyes have been opened to the shortcomings of home birth and hospital birth, thus we have come to the consensus that there is much work to be done and we will be steadfast in advocating education and research.

You stand alone, unwilling to compromise, see other's points of view, empathize with personal situations, nor will you shed light on how to make birth better for women in any environment. You're not helping anyone by being this way. Far from it. You're alienating yourself from a community of women who otherwise might have had something to gain from your knowledge. I for one, have no respect for your authority. I thanked you for being a part of this dialog because it forced us to look deeper and search for reasons to believe in the betterment of the care of laboring women.

But gawd, enough is enough now. Once again, have a Happy New Year everybody!"

We'll see if the conversation ends there. Somehow I have a feeling it might not be over yet...

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