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The Medical Establishment's Ridiculous Opposition to Home-Births

According to ABC news, The Pennsylvania Board of Medicine raised a cease-and-desist order along with an $11,000 fine against Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) Diane Goslin last fall following the unfortunate death of an infant in her care. Though the death was not her fault, nor was it ever attributed to her handling of the infant, the Board went ahead and filed this order against Gosling anyway, citing that she was "practicing medicine and nurse midwifery without proper licensure." Fortunately, through the perseverance and petitions of satisfied patients, the order was thrown out in a five-to-two vote in the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court. Ms. Goslin was subsequently allowed to provide her much needed services to the Amish in Lancaster County, Pa., as well as others in the area who desire a home birth.

The problem, as Pennsylvania Board of Medicine claimed, was that she was a CPM, and the state only recognizes nurse-midwives, who are often unavailable for the kind of services -- home births -- that Diane Goslin performs. The objection is silly because CPMs are just as qualified to birth infants as nurse-midwives, and are actually required to attend more live births than their counterparts. Furthermore, Diane Goslin is better trained to deal with everything from breech births, to twin births, and various other complicated and tricky birth situations than a nurse-midwife, who is usually not available for home births in Pennsylvania anyway. To buttress the point even more, Goslin has delivered 5000 babies. So what was the Pennsylvania Board of Medicine's real problem with Goslin practicing? It most certainly cannot be her lack of experience.

With the qualifications that Ms. Goslin had, it seems that this situation is more about pushing the anti-home birth agenda of the major medical establishment than the qualifications of a valued certified professional midwife (CPM). This dubious action is more about pushing women into giving birth in a hospital setting.

The American Medical Association (AMA) and American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) have already made their position clear, that they deem home births to be unsafe, and the practitioners are in their eyes, unfit. In their opinion, the only appropriate place for low-risk births to occur is in a cold, detached hospital room. As a matter of fact, just recently (July 11) the AMA declared that it would support legislation to eliminate home births altogether, feigning true concern for patients, when their true concern lies with their pocket books.

The notion that home births (of low-risk pregnancies) are any less safe than the traditional way is without corroborated proof. In fact, a recently published study in the British Journal of Medicine found that at-home births are safe. The authors of the study, Kenneth C. Johnson and Betty-Anne Davis, found that:

"Planned home birth for low risk women in North America using certified professional midwives was associated with lower rates of medical intervention but similar intrapartum and neonatal mortality to that of low risk hospital births in the United States."

With this information, it is hard to imagine that the AMA and ACOG would still find fault with home births. Before the study was released, Gregory Philips, the ACOG spokesman, stated, "we are against home birthing, period." I wonder that if, in light of this newly published study, the ACOG would possibly reverse its views on home births and refrain from demonizing its practice.

In summary, whose right is it to tell women where they should give birth, if their pregnancies are complication-free and their midwife has the sufficient training? When the ACOG declare that women who have births outside the hospital setting are putting their infants at risk with next to no empirical data to support such a claim, they are just using sensationalism and rhetoric to discourage women from making their own decisions.


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About the author

Ella Andersen is a college student who intensely researchs topics on health and nutrition. In college, she is furthering her love of nutrition by pursuing a degree in clinical dietetics. This passion for natural health, nutrition and wellness has driven her to run her own blog:

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post Oct 16 2008, 09:50 AM

On 17 August 1977 , my daughter Karen was born in our bed at our farm outside Reading Pa.Ester Mack, our certified midwife, and Dr McTammney attended the birth.No drugs, no surgery, no chance of infection, a safe home birth.With the record of death to infants in the US compared to the rest of the world, it is idiocy to deny nurse/midwives their vocation; to attend healthy births at home.

Pa also wants to build more nuclear power plants, and fought to alow rBGH without labeling in Pa.

Pa residents need to take back their government from the corporations, and make Pa a healthier safer place to be born, and live.

post Oct 16 2008, 03:44 PM

The amount of misinformation out there is so frustrating. Journalists need to do research!

Certified Nurse-Midwives in Pennsylvania, and especially in Lancaster County, do attend homebirths. In fact, nearly a quarter of all births are attended by CNMs each year - far more than by non-nurse midwives. CNMs in Lancaster County attend over a thousand homebirths each year. It is true CNMs won't attend twins or breeches out of hospital, because of the inherent increased risk of morbidity and mortality.

I support the right of every family to choose where, how and with whom to birth!

Every Moment is the Chance of a Lifetime

post Today, 08:28 AM

One of the best experiences I have had in my life was the planned home birth of my second child. Having had a normal vaginal birth with my first child, and my mom also having four normal deliveries, I felt that it was safe for me. I had a certified nurse midwife who came to my home with her apprentice in Dallas, Texas. Being of a petite stature, people were worried about me near the end of my pregnancy as I was larger than normal. I delivered a 10.5 lb boy in 4.5 hours and I didn't even rip due to their expertise. I would have had to have a C-section if I was in the hospital on my back and hooked up to an IV. At home I was able to use gravity to help by walking around, squatting, and then delivering on my hands and knees. I would have never been able to push that boy over my tailbone otherwise. I was glad I had a nurse midwife, because she was allowed to carry oxygen, which my boy needed as he came out blue from me being stuck for a few minutes struggling to push his linebacker shoulders out. I learned that this "blue" coloration is quite normal though, they just take care of it when they take the baby right away in the hospital and clean them up before they let you hold them. I was able to begin nursing my boy, before the cord was even cut. What a wonderful experience to have bringing a life into this world and being awake and aware of it all! I would recommend home birth to anyone who is generally healthy and willing to learn how to be prepared for it. The only downside is we had to pay for it out of pocket because insurance will not cover a home birth. I hope enough of us will stand up and fight if the powers that be try to take this right from us.