I was a victim of an unnecessary c-section in August 2005 as was my first born little girl.  We have suffered the consequences of that event in both our physical and emotional health.  Since that time, I have been an advocate for pregnant and birthing mothers and their right to chose a practitioner and healthcare model that will provide them with the safest outcome.

For my second birth, I chose to birth at home.  In the state of Kentucky, as with many states in our country, it is illegal for any midwife certified or not to attend a homebirth.  It is not illegal for a mother to chose homebirth and/or deliver her baby at home.  Unfortunately, in order to serve women and provide them with the option of a safe birthing environment our midwives are often putting their own personal lives at risk of prosecution.  It is shameful that a trained professional cannot offer their services to a paying and educated client.  It is a shame that if needed doctors and hospitals are not supportive of these midwives.

Why do I feel this way?  The c-section rate in the United States stands at 31.8% of all births.  The state of Kentucky stands at 34.6%.  The World Health Organization recommends a rate of between 10-15% nationwide for the safety of both mothers and their babies, and believes that over half of all c-sections performed in the United States are unnecessary.  That means that doctors are performing surgeries on women for no other reason than speculations, convenience of both mother and doctor (they don’t have to wait on labor), and the spiraling out of control of labor inductions and augmentation.  What doctors often fail to tell women is that a c-section is considered a major abdominal surgery.  The mortality rate in the US for mothers is also alarming.

It is an outrage that in a country where we are supposedly medically advanced that obstetricians and the companies that insure them are ignoring the fact that a woman is more likely to have a successful vaginal birth and/or natural birth under the care of the midwifery model at a location where the mother feels safe.  It is upsetting that they ignore the fact that a vaginal birth after c-section is safer than a repeat surgery.  It is shameful that trained and educated midwives can’t provide their services to women without the risk of prosecution.

This needs to be changed!  As women we should insist that our births shouldn’t be looked at as dollar signs or illnesses but one of the biggest events of the lives of the baby and its family.  We deserve to be treated holistically and ethically.  Yes, hospitals are great, as are obstetricians, when a medical emergency arises, but when choosing doctors who are trained to respond to emergencies it makes us subject to them viewing our pregnancies as an illness to be treated rather than a fact of life to be supported.

What can we do?  Tomorrow May 21st there will be a DC birth briefing on Capital Hill.  Let your congress people know that you support midwives and a woman’s option to chose homebirth. Tell 10 friends to do the same.  Visit The Big Push for Midwives to find out more.  In the state of Kentucky, visit The Kentucky Midwifery Taskforce to find out how you can help.

My second birth was attended by a homebirth midwife who gave me the best healthcare I have ever received in my life.  Ultimately, she had to transfer me to the hospital where I eventually recieved another c-section.  A necessary one this time.  The doctor performing the c-section badmouthed midwives to me while he was removing my baby from my womb.  At no time were either myself or my baby in any danger under the care of my midwife.  That doctor was unprofessional and condescending at a time when I needed his expertise to have a healthy birth.  But, it was inconveniencing him.  How did my midwife respond to my needing a doctor’s services?  By recognizing within a healthy time frame that my birth was not proceeding normally and was one she needed a doctor’s assistance with, and trusting that that doctor would take good care of me.  She never left me alone.  She talked to me while I grieved the choice I was having to make and assured me that I was making the right decision for myself and my baby.  Now, tell me who is professional and offered the best healthcare.

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