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.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post...we need more nurses like yourself who recognize and support the normalcy of birth! Bravo!

Keith "Nurse Keith" Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC said...

Thank you so much. I was activated about this issue by a dear friend who posted an article about it on Facebook.

So glad to receive your comment!

Anonymous said...

I am from England but live in New york and I am married to an American and have residence here in United States. I am curious to know if the authorites in america (here) can do anything to force a preganent woman into hospital if there were complications and I refused to go. I have also had psychatric treatment in the past but this has only been volintary. That is I was volinary having this not compulsary. In england all of this would not make a difference as there even If the hospital ot health trust as we call it wanted me to go to hospital and I did not want to,this would be my desision and there would be no legal action they could take or anything they could do to stop me giving birth at home. And even if I was unsuitabe for home birth the health trust would heve an obligaton to send a midwife round. But is this the case here in america and I am concerned that here in the america New york they may be able to firce me or someone else into hospital. Jenny Brown,New york.

baba said...

Jenny I don't think anyone would be able to force you or anyone else to go to a hospital unless you were declared mentally in competant or something like that. If you got a midwife to agree to help you deliver at home and something went wrong they would be responsible and subject to criminal charges for breaking the law. It's not against the law to have a baby at home in NY but the written practice agreement requires that a midwife have an M.D. backing her up. If that doesn't happen she takes the law into her own hands and may face criminal charges if anyone decides to say she is doing something wrong.