Wednesday, November 11, 2009

My letter to the Oregon House Health Care Committee

Tuesday, November 17th the Oregon House Health Committee will hold a hearing on direct entry midwives (DEMs) at about 4pm in Salem. I am going to try to figure out how to be there! There is movement afoot to make it very difficult to have a midwife-attended homebirth in Oregon. NOT OK!
I am e-mailing this letter to the committee members. I'll make some phone calls too. Please do the same if you can. Thanks!

I am a midwifery client. I chose to have a homebirth for the birth of my daughter in April. I had a hospital birth with my son 11 years ago and witnessed the births of my 2 adopted children in hospitals.
I did not make the decision to homebirth lightly. There seems to be some misconception about those who choose homebirth or birth center births. I am a 33 year old homemaker with a BS in Child Development. My husband of 13 years has a MS in Mechanical Engineering. I read extensively about birth, researched birth choices and gave the matter a lot of thought.
In my research, I learned that for uncomplicated birth, home is safer. Even in more "complicated" birth situations, such as breech presentation, twin birth or VBAC, for me, I felt safer with midwife who trusted my body's ability to give birth. I have found that many people look only at data showing whether or not mom and baby lived through the birth experience. The fact is, there is so much more to it than that. What about morbidity? Including, but not limited to, sever and disabling consequences from C-section mistakes, infection, reactions to medications, birth experiences that are so traumatic they leave the mother depressed or dealing with PTSD?
The reason I chose a homebirth was so I could maintain choice and control over my birth. In a hospital setting, women give up all autonomy over birth. Fear is used evey steop of the way to coerce families into going along with what the doctors and nurses want. What they want usually translates into "more convenient" or "more likely to hold up in court". Insurance companies and fear of litigation run the show. Research and evidence are ignored outright.
My midwife was very open with me about what the research said. I signed countless forms stating I understood the risks and benefits of each choice I made. I know that I was fully participating in the decisions made about MY baby and MY birth.
There was no carelessness or disregard for my safety. My midwife spent a full hour at every appointment. She looked for any signs me or my baby might have any sort of complications. She had a contingency plan for everything. If I had developed a complication and wanted or needed the care of a physician, she would have happily helped me obtain care from one.
Pregnancy and birth are not medical emergencies. By treating them as such, we are actually creating many of the problems we are trying to avoid. Too many babies are born premature because of doctors' hastiness to induce or surgically extract babies. Usually this is based on tests of questionable reliability. Trust in medicine is being eroded. For me personally, if my midwife has to "risk out" for everything under the sun--especially breech, twins and VBAC's--I will NOT choose to birth in a hospital with a doctor instead. I will birth with an unlicensed midwife or birth without any assistance at all. Based on conversations with other women, I know I am certainly not alone in this sentiment.


PapaCoyote said...

Good to voice your concern when public policy is being debated. Hope you will be listened to as you deserve.

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