Nursing Birth

One Labor & Delivery Nurse’s View From the Inside

Couldn’t Have Said It Better Myself… February 16, 2009

The current issue of the AWHONN (Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses) publication Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic and Neo-Natal Nursing includes an amazing editorial about ACOG (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) and the AMA’s (American Medical Association) 2008 official resolution against home birth and out of hospital birth centers as options for women and against home birth care-providers.  The author Nancy Lowe, an editor for the journal, carefully looks at the research on home birth and responds to the resolution in a powerful and thought provoking way.  The editorial is so well written that it is worth reading for yourself:


The “Authorities” Resolve Against Home Birth   by Nancy K. Lowe, Editor


Thank you, Ms. Lowe, for your inspiring and empowering words that ring so true to my ears as both a birth advocate and labor and delivery nurse!  I too feel caught up in the system.  I know in both my head and my heart that the current arrangement of maternity care in the U.S. is not serving our mothers and babies well!  But the good news is, we are not alone!  It’s not “hippy,” “earthy-crunchy,” “granola,” “weird,” “dangerous,” “selfish,” or “gross” to support homebirth, natural birth, breastfeeding, and birth choice.  It’s about the EVIDENCE!  It’s about EVIDENCED-BASED RESEARCH, which unfortunately is something many obstetricians (even ones I work with on a regular basis) refuse to acknowledge, adopt, and respect!  I wish I could scream it from the rooftops sometimes!


One thing I would like to add that I feel Lowe did not address in her editorial (although she alludes to it by way of scare-quoting the word Authorities in the editorial’s title), is that ACOG and the AMA are by no means governing bodies and do not hold any authority to rule over anything!  ACOG and the AMA are NOT agencies of the United States Department of Health and Human Services and have NO authority or responsibility for regulating and supervising maternity care in the United States.  The thought that they are “governing bodies” is a myth that is often perpetuated by OBGYNs themselves.  In reality ACOG is professional association of medical doctors specializing in obstetrics and gynecology while the AMA is the largest association of physicians and medical students in the United States. 


 You do not have to belong to these organizations in order to practice as a physician.  The main mission for both of these organizations: To advance the interests of physicians and to lobby for legislation favorable to physicians.  When you really break it down they are just clubs!  PLAIN AND SIMPLE!  Don’t get me wrong, I understand that it is their American right to lobby for their own interests but it is important for the public to realize that what is in their best interest isn’t necessarily what is in the best interest for mothers and babies.  (And in fact, history has proven this time and time again.  I highly recommend the book Born in the USA: How a Broken Maternity System Must Be Fixed to Put Women and Children First by Marsden Wagner.  It will truly blow your mind!) 


There is a quote I stumbled upon recently by François-Marie Arouet (better known by the pen name Voltaire), a French Enlightenment writer, which I would like to leave with you… 


“It is dangerous to be right on subject on which the established authorities are wrong.”  ~Voltaire


Eerily relevant for an 18th century philosopher, isn’t it?!



One Response to “Couldn’t Have Said It Better Myself…”

  1. Maggie Says:

    This is something I’ve given a little thought to. My husband was hugely interested in us trying a homebirth however I just couldn’t get comfortable with the idea of not being in the hospital if there were an emergency during birth. I think homebirth can be wonderful but I really think that there is nothing wrong with giving birth in the hospital IF you are educated, able to be an advocate for yourself and if you have a supportive practioner, be they a doctor or a nurse-midwife. (I actually didn’t read the article yet so if that’s exactly what she said I apologize for the redundancy.) If doctors really want to encourage women to come to the hospital for birth I think they’d be well-served to reassess their views on drugs and other interventions so that the mother ends up feeling empowered by her birth experience rather than disserved by it.

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