Monday, August 11, 2008

Grassroots Network: TIME Magazine: “Giving Birth at Home” article!

Dear Friends,

The issue of TIME on newsstands TODAY includes this article:
Giving Birth at Home By Ada Calhoun, Thursday, Aug. 07, 2008

Any publicity is “good”! So while this article could have been a little more accurate and better, it is remarkably even-handed, and brings more national attention to this topic!

It’s time to get out your pen (or keyboard!) and write Letters to the Editor at TIME!

If a lot of us write letters to the editor it will indicate to TIME that home birth and midwifery are of high interest to their readers. So it is good to acknowledge that we are glad they are covering this topic.

At the same time, there are a number of incorrect statements and our letters can address these. A lot of regular readers consistently read the Letters to the Editor, so this is also a way to bring correct information to the readers, depending on what letters are published.

This message includes some QUICK TIPS, more detailed GENERAL WRITING GUIDELINES and SUGGESTED WRITING POINTS posted by Colette Bernhard, an Illinois birth activist, followed by a list of quotes from the article noting incorrect information etc. I’m sure you all will think of more angles, points to make, but this is a start.

Happy writing!!


Time should hear from us!
You can e-mail a letter to the editor by clicking on the author’s name on the on-line version, or writing to:
· Make one or two main points clearly; do not try to address everything.
· Do not send attachments.
· Include your full name, address, home phone
· Note that your letter may be edited.
· If you look at letters that are published, they tend to be pretty short and are likely to have a bit of a punch or humor.
· The main point is that they should hear from a lot of us, whether or not any of our letters actually make the cut for publication.


~ Keep it short. The longer your response, the more likely you will be edited or not published.

~ Start by acknowledging on their coverage of home birth. For example, you can thank them for covering home birth, or state that you're surprised by, or disappointed in, their coverage of the home birth maternity care crisis. (What was your first reaction when reading it? Sometimes it's best to describe that.)

~ Include the title of the story and the date.

~ Try to avoid putting a negative term next to "midwife" or "homebirth".
(Example: instead of saying "death rates at home are low," say "home birth is as safe as hospital birth".)

~ Be sure to list any professoinal or advanced academnic credentials after your name, especially if it's health care related (MD, DC, RN, Doula)

~ Pick a writing point in the list below add and introduction and reword it as much as possible in your own words, to avoid the appearance of a form letter.

SUGGESTED WRITING POINTS (Do not copy put into your own words!)

* For a variety of profound reasons, some women are always going to choose home birth, and we need care providers to be recognized by all 50 states so home birth can be better integrated into the healthcare system, and so that there will be enough providers to attend home birth. Simply put: home birth women need certified professional midwives. (If you can, briefly summarize your own difficulties in accessing home birth midwifery care.)

* There is a lot of literature showing home birth with midwives is very safe, and in some ways safer. Organized medicine is comparing apples to oranges in the 2 or 3 flawed studies they cite. Only poor, uncontrolled studies misrepresent planned home birth with a midwife in an unfairly bad light. (Pang study from Washington State included unplanned emergency births. Australian study involved women living in very rural Australia and included higher risk categories.) Property conducted studies all show home birth as safe as hospital (excluding women with medical problems)

* All the states (and Canadian provinces) that license certified professional midwives for home birth show good results. Laws licensing CPMs are renewed instead of repealed, and in some states the practice is actively encouraged.

* The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is in stark contrast to their Canadian and British counterparts (Royal College of OB/Gyns and Society of OB/GYNs of Canda). In Canada and Britian the OB groups embrace midwifes as the experts in normal, natural birth, including home birth. In Great Britian it's a woman's officially recognized civil RIGHT to have a home birth.

* Complication statistics quoted by physicians are based on birth that has been chemically or mechanically manipulated by hospital and medical procedures. Those same complications have a lower risk at home with a midwife. Therefore, it's understandable that hospital OBs fail to understand home birth; doctors are used to riskier hospital birth, and then using their surgical skills to fix the problems they created in the first place. At home, the midwife herself is there through much of the labor, carefully monitoring to make sure things are proceeding normally. In addition to lower risk of complications to begin with at home, many things may be detected sooner with one-on-one care that does not exist in hospitals. (If you can personally or professionally speak to wonder how doctors would know how quickly problems arise in a birth, since they're not there in hospital births until the last x# of minutes.)

Susan’s thoughts and observations…
Below are some quotes that include incorrect information:

"Legislating against home birth is totally un-American and unfair," says Joan Bryson, who has worked as a midwife in New York City for 17 years. "We rank 42nd in the world in live births, and we spend more money than anyone else. You can't blame it on home birth."
This is likely a typo. For infant mortality stats in TIME! See: Why Do US Infants Die Too Often? May 13, 2008 at,8599,1736042,00.html?iid=sphere-inline-sidebar

“While home birthing still accounts for less than 1% of U.S. births, there's a movement afoot to license more lay midwives to attend home births. Concerned by this development, the American Medical Association (AMA) is urging lawmakers to curb the home-birthing movement, including having the licensing of so-called direct-entry midwives--who do not have nursing degrees--overseen by a state medical-practitioner board.”
The effort is to license Certified Professional Midwives, who must meet rigourous requirements for knowledge, skills and experience. This credential is the only maternity care credential requiring experience in out-of-hospital settings. (The author never mentions CPMs in the article)

“But it's those precious minutes that have obstetricians alarmed. "Unless there's ready access to certain emergency personnel and equipment and even surgery, you're potentially endangering babies' and moms' health and lives," says Dr. Erin Tracy, an ob-gyn at Boston's Massachusetts General Hospital who authored two anti-home-birth resolutions approved by the AMA in June. "We've all seen scenarios where mothers came in, after very major blood loss, in a very catastrophic state," she says. "By the time they arrive in the hospital, you're sort of behind the eight ball in trying to resuscitate these patients. The same thing with neonatal outcome."
No evidence for this. We know from the CPM 2000 study (see summary fact sheet at ) that hospital transport for major blood loss is extremely rare, but OBs frequently make statements like these with no basis in fact. In fact, very few of home birth transports for hospital care are for actual emergencies most are for exhaustion or mother’s desire for pharmaceutical pain relief.

After birthing moved to hospitals en masse in the 1950s, the maternal mortality rate plummeted, from 376 per 100,000 live births in 1940 to 37.1 per 100,000 in 1960.”
At the same time that birth was moving to the hospital (over the first half of the 20th century), public sanitation was improved, antibiotics were developed, and blood transfusion technology became available. These factors were most significant in saving mothers’ lives, not moving birth to the hospital per se as implied by this quote. The quote is an example of mistakenly making a leap from observations that are merely associated to an assumption that there is a causal relationship.

“This summer, Missouri reversed its 25-year ban on non-nurse midwives. Twenty states have similar legislation they are either introducing or planning.
“Twenty-six states now recognize direct-entry midwives in statute, 24 through licensure.” (Issue Brief: Certified Professional Midwives in the United States at ). Of these ,twenty- two states specifically recognize the CPM as a basis for regulation and/or use the CPM examination as the state licensing exam. While Missouri advocates are continuing to work on legislation to provide for licensing, the “reversal” this summer was decriminalization, and Missouri is currently almost alone in having this kind of legislation.

“Meanwhile, many obstetricians are trying to meet women halfway, through hospital-affiliated natural-birth centers.
This is news to me! In any case, there are way too few birth centers, and they are not evenly distributed, so most women do not have access.

A final thought: Since the vast majority of obstetricians have never observed an undisturbed, physiological or natural birth and are trained to perform unnecessary and harmful, complication-causing protocols and interventions on laboring women, and since the obstetric community controls more than 95% of births in the US but finds it necessary to drug, induce and/or perform surgery on the majority of healthy pregnant women during childbirth with outcomes for mothers and babies that are far worse than most other developed countries, is this a profession that is even competent to have any authority over normal birth?

Remember, pick just ONE point to make in your letter!

Susan Hodges, “gatekeeper”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hospital-birth advocates that point out that maternal mortality rates "plummeted" when birth moved to the hospital are slow to admit that MMR actually *rose* when birth moved to the hospital (p 14.), and that The 1933 White House Conference on Child Health Protection, Fetal, Newborn, and Maternal Mortality and Morbidity report demonstrated a connection between excessive operative deliveries and poor aseptic practice with the high maternal mortality rate.

They are also slow to point out that the current MMR is rising along with C-section rates; and I'm sure they'd say that it's mere coincidence.