- Today in the United States, advances in science and technology account for many positive changes in our quality of life. Yet more and more women from all walks of life are choosing to give birth the old-fashioned way — in their own homes.
- Why? The fact is, in spite of all the good that has come from scientific discoveries and experiments, medical science has not been able to improve the human body and the way it was designed to work. Yet when our bodies are not functioning the way they were created to function, we are more fortunate than our ancestors in that modern medical science can sometimes help.
- So why are families having homebirths? Though each couple may have individual reasons, most plan homebirths because they believe that most of the time pregnancy and childbirth are normal functions of a healthy body — not a potential life-and-death crisis that requires the supervision of a surgeon.
- There are risks involved in childbearing. In a small percentage of cases the skills of an obstetrician/gynecologist and high-tech equipment like ultrasound and fetal monitors are necessary in order for the mother or the baby to survive childbirth without long-term ill effects.
The neonatal mortality rate for the U.S. in 1989 was slightly more than 10 per 1,000 live births. We have the most highly sophisticated and expensive system of maternity care in the world, yet in the same year twenty other countries — countries with less technology than we have in our hospitals and laboratories — had more babies survive their first months of life than our babies in the United States.
What do they do in those 20 countries to have better outcomes?
With fewer high-tech hospitals and obstetricians available, many of those countries — like Holland, Sweden and Denmark — use midwives as the primary care-givers for healthy women during their pregnancies and births.
The World Health Organization urges the U.S. to return to a midwife-based system of maternity care.
Understanding the potential danger in the overuse of childbirth technology, the World Health Organization has repeatedly implored the U.S. medical authorities to return to a midwife-based system of maternity care as one way to help reduce our scandalously high mortality rates.
Midwives, in fact, still attend most of the births around the globe. Physicians, in spite of their advanced training and surgical specialties, have never been proven to be better childbirth attendants than midwives. And no research has been done that proves hospitals to be the safest places in which to give birth.
In fact, study after study has demonstrated that for the majority of child-bearing women in the U.S., the homebirth/midwifery model should be the standard for maternity care.
- 1. National Committee to Prevent Infant Mortality, HOMEBIRTH No. 8, Sept/Oct 1990, p. 5.
- 2. The Five Standards of Safe Childbearing, 1981, Stewart, p. 114.
- 3. Mothering, Jan/Feb, 1990.