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Home Birth “Common Ground”?

8:59 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Amie Newman for – News, commentary and community for reproductive health and justice.

It may be less well-known than the effort to find common ground between the pro-choice and anti-choice movements but it’s no less controversial, it seems.

The growing childbirth advocacy movement has highlighted the divide between those who would like to see expanded access to safe, state-regulated out-of-hospital birth and midwifery for women and those who oppose access to these options.

However, a new effort, nearly three years in the making, to bridge the divide is underway. According to the American College of Nurse-Midwives, a Home Birth Consensus Summit is being convened in 2011 and will bring both camps to the table in an effort to find areas of agreement with the ultimate goal of improving maternity care for pregnant, birthing and postpartum women and their babies.

In a statement about the summit, ACNM notes that the meeting will be facilitated by “the Future Search Network, a nonprofit organization that is internationally known for brokering lasting agreements and shared initiatives in highly volatile and polarized settings, around issues related to poverty, health care access, regional and ethnic conflict, and education. Future Search meetings produce a “Common Ground Agenda,” which articulates a shared vision and direction.”

It’s likely not shocking that this issue is considered “highly volatile,”  if you’re a regular reader of RH Reality Check or have ever been a part of the maternity care system as patient or provider in this country. Despite a steady stream of peer-reviewed, published, scientific studies on the safety of planned home birth and the widespread use of midwives in other countries as credible maternity care providers, mainstream medical associations like the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG) are fiercely opposed to any home birth options – licensed and regulated or not. Whereas a host of public health associations, nurses groups, nurse-midwifery organizations, certified professional midwifery advocates and even many individual MDs are working hard, daily, to pass state laws legalizing home birth and certified professional midwifery.

Progress is happening, though. Read more

Advocates Push ACOG to Remove Barriers to VBACs

7:05 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Amie Newman for – News, commentary and community for reproductive health and justice.

Birth activists including providers have waged a long fight against barriers to VBACs (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean). For too long, they say, women who have had a prior c-sections and would like to attempt a vaginal birth for subsequent pregnancies, have had inadequate access to at least attempting a trial-of-labor. The reasons for the lack of access? Well, it depends upon who you ask.

Ask many hospital adminstrators and ob-gyns and they’d say there’s a risk of uterine rupture (which is true), and that recommended hospital policy, via organizations like the American College of Obstetricians and Gyneocologists (ACOG), has made allowing for women’s access to VBACs extremely challenging. Many hospitals have enacted bans on VBACs. State legislators have even jumped into the fold, attempting to ban VBACs in birth centers and elsewhere.

On the other hand, the recently held National Institue of Health consensus conference on VBACs, led by a panel of maternity care experts concluded that,

“…a trial of labor is a reasonable option for many women with a prior cesarean delivery. They [the panel] also urged that current VBAC guidelines be revisited, malpractice concerns be addressed, and additional research undertaken to better understand the medical and non-medical factors that influence decision making for women with previous cesarean deliveries.”

As well, the panel chair, Dr. F. Gary Cunningham, chair of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Texas Southwester Medical Center said, of the findings, “The use or employment of VBAC is certainly a safe alternative for the majority of women who have had one prior c-section.”

Then, this summer, ACOG responded. Read more