Sunday, May 16, 2010

New York City Is Now a Home Birth Backwater

After the closing of St. Vincent's Hospital in New York City on April 3oth, the thirteen midwives who have provided home births to women choosing this option in this city of 8 million people can no longer do so legally. New York law requires that midwives have an obstetrician or hospital as backup when providing home birth services, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has stridently opposed home midwifery and home births for years, discouraging their members from supporting or providing medical coverage for midwives.

With one third of all pregnancies in the United States now ending in Caesarean Section, many midwives and supporters of natural childbirth feel that birth has become yet another cash cow for the American medical industry, with home birth becoming more rare (and less legal) as the decades pass. Some American cities and towns have even made public breastfeeding a crime, adding further insult to injury for women who choose natural childbirth and breastfeeding as a lifestyle choice in the interest of the health and well-being of their baby.

Despite the fact that home birth and midwifery are quite popular in other industrialized nations with advanced medical infrastructures (30% of babies in the Netherlands are born at home), the United States medical establishment still vilifies home birth as foolish and dangerous. In fact, the US has one of the highest rates of maternal mortality in the industrialized world (16.7 per 100,000 live births) as compared to The Netherlands' maternal mortality rate of 7.6% or Italy's rate of 3.9%. Amnesty International has even called the United States' childbirth track record "a human rights crisis".

With the current situation in New York City, home births are now illegal and midwives providing maternal care in the home do so at their own risk and without legal or medical support. As one of the most famous and progressive cities on earth, New York City has now become a home birth backwater, creating a crisis for the midwives and families who choose this natural alternative to the American medical industry's industrialization of childbirth.
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