Archive for 23 August 2008

Should We Push for Better Birth on Television as Well?

Not every woman cares to watch television or even to have one in her home, but many of those who do, choose to watch the wide variety of birth shows available to them. But is there really any true variety to these shows? The answer is no. Many of the birth stories on shows such as The Baby Story, Babies: Special Delivery, and the new show, Deliver Me, are told in a way that dramatize and sensationalize the experience, especially when there is some sort of a problem. Everything from the narrator’s voice to the music played in the background and the clips chosen evokes anxiety in the viewer. Even worse, the shows rarely focus on the rarity of the circumstances they present, even the one percent situations.

Enter House of Babies, the only series I am aware of that tells the accounts of natural childbirth. Other shows might include the occasional, rare homebirth, but when they do so the title of the episode becomes “Unconventional Birth.” What is so wonderful and so beautifully normal and natural is deemed abnormal! In House of Babies, however, women finally receive a show that promotes normal, natural birth:

“In 2006, the Discovery Health Channel premiered a new factual show about natural childbirth, called “House of Babies,” shot at Shari’s Miami Maternity Clinic. The 26-episode, fact-based series follows the stories of Shari, other midwives and midwifery students, and parents as they experience the day-to-day joy and drama of drug-free childbirth. The footage of the births is raw and real; the pain and hard work of labor is evidenced.” http://www.houseofbabies.com.

Seeing as television has such strong influence in our society, it is good that shows such as House of Babies are out there, and that some women are willing to share their intensely personal birth experiences in an effort to educate about birth options. But there are only 26 episodes in this program, they are already becoming outdated, and I know of no other program other like it. Is there a place for a show that educates not only about midwifery, but about homebirth as well? A show that will educate and celebrate the safety, beauty, and normalcy of homebirth, and take the time to explain what is not being articulated to so many women as they sit and watch anxiety-provoking stories of hospital births with obstetricians?

Deliver Me, the newest of these shows, is particularly disappointing. All three obstetricians are women, which initially offers a glimmer of hope, but the medical model of care is clear as day as the story of each pregnancy and birth is told; The doctors are quick to offer intervention and equally as quick in their conversations with their “patients.”

Perhaps what women need to see instead are many different midwives, in many different homes, delivering many different babies to many different families, treating each one of them as though they are the only one in the world, their birth the only birth. Can television be a place for this? For those of us committed to the cause, inspired and empowered by our own natural births and those of other women, the stories we know are enough. What can we change in this realm of the media for the women who do not yet share and delight in the secret of all of this, to make it not so secret after all?

23 August 2008 at 8:46 pm 5 comments

Must Read article on home birth politics

It is a hopefully a new trend to read well reported journalism on home birth midwives. Alternet posted Anna Clark’s article on licensure and its legislative obstacles from medical trader organizations:

Dr. Henry Dorn of High Point, NC, is one OB/GYN — and former AMA member — who questions the recent obstacles to widespread licensure for midwives. Dorn operates a gynecology practice that offers midwifery services.

“I feel that (the AMA’s) statement may stem from a combination of ignorance or avoidance of the facts regarding out-of-hospital birth by skilled attendants, and perhaps a desire to protect the business interests of the physician community,”

Dorn said. “This is not to say that AMA members do not care for their patients’ best interests, but only that given the current medical climate, it would not be surprising to see those outside pressures affect [their] conclusions.”

Dorn expects the resolution to “discourage another generation of doctors from considering alternatives to highly medicalized birth, as most feel that any statements by the AMA should be viewed as gospel.”

Mattingly wonders if the root issue is that many doctors fear what they don’t know. “Very few doctors have seen a birth without any medical intervention,” she said. That means, “Most have never ever seen a normal birth.”

It is a very good article. Hopefully more Massachusetts legislators become aware of international trends of governments’ aims to increase homebirth:

Comparatively, home births are actively encouraged by U.K. governments, and in Edinburgh in particular. Nicola Goodall is an Edinburgh doula who reports that OB/GYNs and midwifes are partnering in an effort to respond to more babies being born than there are hospital units to accommodate them; Goodall said the collective goal is to increase home births by 800%. It’s an ambition that also translates into making midwifery an appealing and accessible profession.

“Midwives are registered here and they work alongside doctors and hospitals,” Goodall said. “All women giving birth in the UK get midwifery care, but they may get it alongside doctors if they have a special need (such as) a medical problem like diabetes.”

I read recently that South Australia had similar goals in the “Women’s Health Action Plan Initiative.”

23 August 2008 at 7:17 am Leave a comment


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