Much has been written this week about the American Medical Association, a trade association for doctors, drafting a resolution calling for the illegalization of home birth and blaming Ricki Lake for making it trendy with the film she and Abby Epstein made called "The Business of Being Born." (I highly recommend the film, which you can get on Netflix, and not just because I am interviewed in it. ;)
So I will try not to repeat what others, including Ricki, have said in response to the AMA, which boils down to a proverbial flip of the bird. Instead, I hope I can offer some context and history here.
1. The American Medical Association was a big part of the campaign to eradicate midwives nearly a century ago, a move that was largely successful, and this country is still grappling with the public health consequences of that -- with 99 percent of births taking place in a hospital; 1 out of every three births a c-section; and half the women in the hospital getting Pitocin. The campaign then was about money and power, as it is now.
2. I have NEVER heard a woman who has given birth at home say she made a mistake or that it was a horrible experience. If there are any such moms out there, I'd love to hear from you. By contrast, I hear more and more from women who have horrible hospital experiences with OBs who still think episiotomies are necessary and no woman should push for more than two hours.
3. Those who are against home birth will typically post on blogs with remarks that start like this: "My baby had shoulder dystocia...thank God I was in a hospital and that wonderful doctor saved me and my baby..." Well, guess what, that doctor probably performed the Gaskin maneuver, named after a MIDWIFE, who knows a thing or two about shoulder dystocia in home birth.
4. Throughout history, whenever women felt they did not have a choice in childbirth, they spoke out, voted with their feet, and forced change. Clearly, woman are beginning to feel pushed around, and many are choosing to stay home, in part, I hope, because they are being empowered by the FACTS, by scientific studies, by films, and by books such as mine and Jennifer Block's Pushed.
5. I had a home birth 6 months ago. It blew my mind. It was as birth should be and I am no radical. If home birth suddenly became illegal, and I suddenly became pregnant again, I would still find a way to give birth at home. Oops, guess I couldn't make it to the hospital in time. And you can bet that midwives would still come if called, regardless of the consequences. Tell me, how would illegalizing home birth do anything but force it underground and make it less safe?