Nursing Birth

One Labor & Delivery Nurse’s View From the Inside

Sign the Petition! Demand Accurate Reporting of ALL Birth Options!! October 1, 2009

Dear Readers,


Choices in Childbirth, a NYC based non-for-profit advocacy group whose mission is to improve maternity care by providing the public, especially childbearing women and their families, with the information necessary to make fully informed decisions relating to how, where, and with whom they will give birth, has recently created a petition in response to NBC’s Today Show segment entitled “The Perils of Midwifery” (later changed to “The Perils of Homebirth” and even later taken off the internet all together!!) speaking out against the segment’s inaccurate, fear mongering, sensationalized, and outrageous portrayal of midwife-attended homebirth, of midwives in general, and of the families who chose this option. 


Below is the letter attached to the petition.  If you feel the same way please consider SIGNING.   On October 9th, the last day of National Midwifery week, representatives from Choices in Childbirth will deliver the letter and petition to The Today Show at NBC’s headquarters in NYC.  The goal is to get at least 5,000 signatures by October 9th and as of today, the petition already has 3,653!!!


Thank you,





Petition Letter:


Dear NBC Producers,

    We, the undersigned, collectively voice our deepest concerns over what we believe has been a gross misrepresentation both of midwife-attended homebirth and of the women who choose this option.


While empathizing deeply with the McKenzie family and their loss, we are shocked at the way in which NBC’s “Today Show” chose to portray homebirth as dangerous while choosing to ignore ample medical research that demonstrates its safety in the US and in other developed countries around the world. Not only did the producers of the Today Show ignore journalistic due diligence, they also chose to ignore basic rules of fairness by repeatedly citing doctors and the trade union that represents them while denying midwives and their proponents a voice.   This is simply irresponsible journalism, and misleading to your viewers. We expect more from such a well-respected program.

    We stand in support of families who choose to birth their babies at home with a skilled midwife, not for hedonistic reasons, as the Today Show segment so insultingly suggests, but because they truly believe that it is the best option for themselves and their babies. We support women who choose home birth, who are not following a fad, but who are following their hearts and their informed minds to seek a birth that is both safe and healthy. Far from being a recent trend or fashion, midwifery draws on a continuum of knowledge and experience that goes back many centuries. Midwives are well-trained professionals who specialize in normal birth and provide outcomes that are often superior to obstetrician-attended birth. To suggest otherwise is deeply offensive.

The Today Show missed an opportunity to discuss why, despite its near universal reliance on hospital-based, physician-attended obstetric care in birth, America has one of the worst infant mortality rates in the developed world. It missed an opportunity to discuss the reasons why highly educated, thoughtful and responsible women are choosing a home birth with a qualified midwife as an alternative to a hospital birth- an option that other countries have proven again and again costs less money, necessitates fewer c-sections, and provides better outcomes for mothers and babies than our system. The Today Show missed an opportunity to ask why the United States spent $86 billion in 2006 on maternity care that left the US with one of the worst infant mortality rates in the developed world and left women and their families asking for more choices in their maternity care.

Although every infant death is a terrible tragedy, the real scandal about birth in the US lies not in the death of the McKenzie’s baby alone, but in the fact that 13.6 African American babies die for every thousand live births; an infant mortality rate that is triple that of Denmark or South Korea. What is truly shocking is not that a fraction of women choose home birth, but that our international infant mortality ranking has worsened from 12th in the world in 1960 to 29th in 2004 during the same period that our rates of medical intervention in birth have gone up exponentially- Cesarean section rates alone have more than tripled. 

We are passionate about childbirth issues because we know that, like the rest of the healthcare system in this country, there is much room for improvement.  Drawing battle lines between midwives and doctors and terrorizing the public unnecessarily are hardly constructive means to this end. We call on the Today Show to provide the public with the whole story regarding the evidence and viewpoints supporting the choice of midwife-assisted home birth.


We call on the Today Show to choose responsible journalism.






USA Today Weighs In On Homebirth September 17, 2009

On Monday, USA TODAY, a national American daily newspaper that has the widest circulation of any newspaper in the U.S., published an article entitled For some women, no place like home for childbirth by Rita Rubin.  As usual, I was worried when I clicked on the link as typically when mainstream media gets a hold on the “home birth debate” it gets ugly.  (Case in point: see The Perils of Midwifery.  Please don’t get me STARTED on that GARBAGE!!)  However Rubin’s article was pretty alright. 


First of all the couple highlighted in the piece had a beautiful homebirth experience.  (What?  You mean it wasn’t a horrible regrettable disaster!?!)  Second she actually interviews and quotes a homebirth midwife in the article .(What a novel idea!! You mean it is responsible journalism to actually interview midwives when writing an article on them!)  And thirdly she ends on a positive note with a quote from Alice Bailes, a certified nurse midwife who attends homebirths in Virginia, “We get to see one normal birth after another.”


Although the article didn’t get away with writing about home births without quoting ACOG’s mantra “Home deliveries are for pizza”, I think this article did a pretty good job for mainstream media.  Thanks Rubin!  You give me hope!


Believe! A Tear-Jerkin’ Inspirational Midwifery Ad September 4, 2009

The other day I stumbled upon a YouTube video advertisement for a midwife in Albuquerque, New Mexico via a friend’s facebook page.  You’d think that I must get sick of watching videos of births and babies since I am, after all, a labor and delivery nurse but alas, I am a true birth junkie and just can’t get enough!!  I don’t know anything about the midwife in the movie but I have to say that not only do I BELIEVE everything she quotes in the video but I wish that every health care professional that provides care for childbearing familes felt and practiced the same way as she does! 


I believe that every mother DESERVES a midwife and that every baby DESERVES to be born into gentle hands!




The following is from Citizens for Midwifery:


The Midwives Model of Care

The Midwives Model of Care is based on the fact that pregnancy and birth are normal life processes.

The Midwives Model of Care includes:

  • Monitoring the physical, psychological, and social well-being of the mother throughout the childbearing cycle
  • Providing the mother with individualized education, counseling, and prenatal care, continuous hands-on assistance during labor and delivery, and postpartum support
  • Minimizing technological interventions
  • Identifying and referring women who require obstetrical attention


The application of this woman-centered model of care has been proven to reduce the incidence of birth injury, trauma, and cesarean section.

Copyright (c) 1996-2008, Midwifery Task Force, Inc., All Rights Reserved.


Home Birth and Midwives in the News! June 24, 2009

Today I read an article on, the website for the newspaper The Journal Gazette based out of Fort Wayne, Indiana that really gave me the warm and fuzzies.  


The article is entitled For some, life begins at homeby Emma Downs and it tells the story of a local family that researched, planned, and ultimately had a positive and empowering home birth after a dis-empowering hospital birth with many interventions.  The article also touches on the growing demand for home births that some midwives are reporting in many communities and how for families that chose home birth, it is about personal responsibility and research and most importantly, informed choice.  I really liked this article as opposed to other articles I have read on home birth in other major media outlets because it just tells it like it is without over-sensationalizing it.  A GREAT read!


Thank you to Christina from the Massachusetts Friends of Midwives Blog for alerting me to this story!


Maternity Care In the News: A Breath of Fresh Air in the Berkshires March 28, 2009

I was recently forwarded an article entitled “C-section births fall” published in The Berkshire Eagle (a newspaper based out of Pittsfield, MA) that restored my confidence in good reporting J.  The article begins by citing the cesarean rate statistics for North Adams Regional Hospital in Massachusetts and highlights the fact that they perform significantly fewer c-sections than other hospitals around the state — an average of 18 percent of all births at the hospital compared to the state average of 34 percent. 


But what I really like about the article overall is that its tone is positive regarding the midwifery model of care and the whole article is not overly sensationalized just to score a headline.  My favorite quotes include:


“I think what is being reflected in our numbers is that we are taking a more ‘midwifery’ approach with our practice then before,” Robin Rivinus, a certified nurse midwife with Northern Berkshire Obstetrics & Gynecology at the hospital, said last week. “It means that we do fewer unnecessary interventions — inductions, Cesarean sections, episiotomies. We treat childbirth as the normal, natural thing that it is. We only step in when it’s medically necessary, which is much better for both the mother and the baby.”




“Recently there have been several high-profile studies done that conclude there is overuse of high-tech interventions,” Rivinus said. “The conclusions have been that all women should be offered a midwifery model, or a ‘back-to-basics’ approach to childbirth, where spontaneous, natural birth is the focus.”


An article like this is a breath of fresh air after reading some of the recent garbage that is being reported as “news” recently.  See: Why The Today Show Hurts America (or, Battling The Case Against Breastfeeding) 


Thanks Berkshire Eagle J


The Scope of Practice for Midwifery in America (or, Why Physicians Are Shaking in Their Boots) March 11, 2009

I recently read an article published on (a publication of the American Medical Association) entitled Scope of practice expansions fuel legal battles by Amy Lynn Sorrel. The article reports on the increasing number of physicians and professional medical associations bringing forth court cases against state boards of health on what they refer to as “scope of practice expansions” by a growing number of health care professionals.  Two examples of this phenomenon that are highlighted in the article include the right of nurse anesthetists to provide interventional pain management services to their patients and the right of certified professional midwives to practice independently (as was passed in the State of Missouri in 2007).  If you have 10 minutes, the article is pretty short can be found at the link above.


This article immediately caught my eye as the main initiative behind these recent physician led court cases happens to be one of the greatest hurdles that both Direct-Entry Midwives and Certified Nurse Midwives find themselves trying to overcome in many states around this country every day.  This hurdle is played out in a battle waged by physicians to protect their own interests (including the “business” of medicine) by fighting to legally prevent other health care professionals from their right to practice independently and within their scope of practice. 


Attorney Timothy Miller, the Federation of State Medical Boards’ senior director of government relations and policy, states in the article that, “There is this overall push by allied health professionals to try to increase their scope of practice, and what’s landing people in the courts is when they actually meander outside of their scope into areas considered the practice of medicine.”  What is particularly frustrating about this statement is that throughout the relatively brief history of modern medicine, it is physicians who have defined the “scope of medicine” which really is just a fancy term for “anything that physicians want complete monopolized control over”.  Talk about job security…if you lobby for legislation to make it illegal for any other healthcare professional to perform any service that you perform as a physician, then every consumer by default has to come to you to receive the service…Cha Ching!


Author Sorrel continues by stating the physicians’ side of the story, which is that “in many cases physicians warn that allied professionals are overstepping their bounds without appropriate medical expertise,” and AMA Board of Trustees Chair Joseph M. Heyman, MD states “Nonphysician health care providers serve a vital role on a physician-led health care delivery team but [scope of practice expansions] put patients at risk.”  Not only do these statements skew the facts, but they promote a gross misconception of what these healthcare professionals are actually fighting for. 


In truth these allied health professionals are fighting to gain legal support for what they feel they ARE appropriately educated to do and are not just trying to “skip medical school”!  In regards to the fight for the legalization and independent practice of both Direct-Entry and Certified Nurse Midwives, these professions aren’t just fighting for legal support to perform services they have the education, expertise, and authority to do as well and as safe as physicians, they are fighting for the legal support to perform services they have the education, expertise, and authority research has proven they do BETTER and SAFER that physicians (i.e. attending the prenatal care and normal vaginal deliveries of low risk, healthy pregnant women in any venue they see appropriate, including the home, out of hospital birthing center, and hospital.)



Furthermore calling allied health providers part of “physician-led” health care delivery teams automatically puts them in a subordinate role which is an antiquated and borderline offensive school of thought.  More appropriately, research has found that patients get the best results, both in and out of the hospital, when cared for by an interdisciplinary health care team that combines the expertise and experience of many health care professionals (including nursing, nutrition, physical therapy, complimentary medicine, management, pharmacy, etc.) to attain a more holistic delivery of care.  The physician might be the one writing the final “orders,” but the best patient outcomes are obtained when all member of the team are considered to be professional “equals.” 


Len Finnocchio, DrPH, a senior program officer at the California Health Care Foundation states, “These battles are not going away, and the challenge for professions is to accept that we are going to have overlapping scopes in some practices.”  He states, “We should be using every resource to its optimum to provide health care to everyone possible at the lowest cost possible. And it boils down to: If a professional can demonstrate they have the judgment, competence and skill to provide certain services, they should be able to do that.”


And in today’s world with today’s economy, who in their right mind can argue with that!?