Sunday, September 21, 2008

This was an intersting piece in the Telegraph (UK). It shows how government policies and national culture can really affect how and where birth happens.

Home births still rare despite Government pledge
The number of women giving birth at home has slumped in the space of two generations, a Government report will say this week.

By Patrick Sawer
Last Updated: 12:46AM BST 21 Sep 2008

Research by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) will highlight how the proportion of deliveries taking place at home fell from one in three in 1955, to just one in 40 by 2006.

While home births have undergone something of a renaissance in the past few years - with celebrities such as Charlotte Church and Davina McCall opting to give birth at home - the report will demonstrate just how far the level remains below what it was in the Fifties and Sixties.

The Government has promised that by next year, all women in England should be given the option of where to have their baby. However, a shortage of midwives often means that women are not offered a home birth, or have it cancelled at the last minute and are forced to go into hospital.

There was a significant increase in home births in 2006, when 18,953 deliveries took place at home compared with 17,277 the year before. Yet despite the rise, only 2.5 per cent of deliveries in 2006 were at home, compared with 30 per cent in the Netherlands.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Nice surprise

I complained bitterly in an earlier post about my health insurer for not covering the cost of my oh-so-frugal home birth, the price tag of which was 1/7th the amount of my previous birth in a hospital. I ranted about the system being messed up, short-sighted and overrun by bean counters who don't even know what a midwife is.

But today, I received a check in the mail. Reimbursement. Granted, it only took 10 months...

Still, I consider this progress. Ultimately, even if we weren't reimbursed, the home birth was worth every penny out of pocket. As I said to the midwife recently, if she had asked for a Mercedes the night our son was born, we would have figured out a way to give her one. Thanks, Blue Cross.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Dr. Phil

Did anyone see that episode on home birth? Did it air? I rarely have the TV on.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Born in Brazil

Tonight I saw "Born in Brazil," a documentary about the soaring c-section rate in that country. It became very clear to me how much class has affected the rates there in a couple ways. First, poor women give birth in nasty public hospitals where they labor alone. Of course, they all aspire to the private hospitals, where doctors like to perform c-sections because they can charge for them. Another wrinkle: Abortion is illegal there, and poor women have the worst access to birth control, but a woman can get a tubal ligation when she is having a section. Sigh.

The screening was part of a panel I was on at Wheaton College. I was joined by Megan McCullough, an anthropology professor there, who had studied aboriginal women in Queensland, Australia, who at 39 weeks, would get flown far away to give birth, again removed from family. They, too, have very high c-section rates.

And what happens when the machine is wrong?

This. Is. Gross. The computer rendering of the mother doesn't help.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Dr. Phil vs. Ricki Lake

This is one wrestling match I'd pay to see. (I think Ricki would win!)

Dr. Phil is doing a special on "Bad Home Birth Experiences." He is asking anyone who has had a negative experience with their home birth midwife to get in touch to be on his talk show. Seems like an odd choice for him, but with Ricki Lake's documentary, "The Business of Being Born," bringing so much positive attention to home birth, he must want a little of the action. Below is a link where they are looking for guests on the show. Feel free to share hospital horror stories. MRSA anyone? Forced c-section? Unnecessary episiotomy? The choices are endless.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Catching up

I can't believe what a delinquent blogger I've been. I guess it was summeritis. We were away in a remote part of Vermont for a while and there was a satellite internet connection when we arrived at the house but within a couple days the groundskeeper ran over the the line behind the barn with his tractor and that was that. For weeks. By then, I was weaned from my techno urges and enjoying a real vacation.

Some random catch-up thoughts: This story got alot more traction in the UK than it did the US, not sure why, even though it was a study out Yale. If Angelina Jolie does have postpartum depression - and, frankly, with colicky twins, that would be excuse enough -- this might go further in explaining why.

From the BBC, Sept. 3
"Natural birth 'may aid baby bond'
Mothers who give birth naturally are more responsive to the cry of their baby than those who choose to have a Caesarean, American research suggests.

Brain scans on 12 new mothers soon after birth found more activity in areas linked to motivation and emotions in those who had a vaginal delivery.

The Yale University team says differences in the hormones generated by birth could be the key.

The women in this study were those who elected to have a Caesarean.

The contractions which are an essential part of a natural birth trigger the release of the hormone oxytocin, which is thought to play a key role in shaping maternal behaviour.

However, undergoing a Caesarean does not trigger the same release of hormones.

The procedure has been linked to an increased risk of post-natal depression.

The Yale team carried out brain scans on 12 women two to four weeks after they had given birth - known as the early postpartum period.

Half had a Caesarean, the other half gave birth naturally.

The differences in brain activity were found in regions that not only appeared to influence a mother's response to her child, but also to regulate her mood.

Lead researcher Dr James Swain said the study, reported in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, might help provide a better understanding of the chemistry underpinning the attachment between a mother and her baby.

"Our results support the theory that variations in delivery conditions such as with caesarean section, which alters the neurohormonal experiences of childbirth, might decrease the responsiveness of the human maternal brain in the early postpartum."

Personality factors

Professor James Walker, a spokesman for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: "We have long recognised that people who have a caesarean section do sometimes have some problems bonding with their baby."