(NaturalNews) St. John's Pleasant Valley Hospital's recent ban on
midwifery has been met with impassioned community protests at its sister
hospital, St. John's Regional Medical Center. In early March, protester
signs exclaimed, "St. John's we want our midwives back," and "Our
Babies, our Births, our Choice." Critics of the recent ban value the
important niche that midwives occupy within a birthing world dominated
by obstetricians. More expectant mothers are exercising their right to
give birth in a more relaxed, drug free, less costly and, arguably safer
In the past 20 years, the amount of women giving birth with a midwife
has doubled. Heidi Teeple of San Anselmo, California had baby Logan with
her husband and two midwives at home where they set up a bathtub for the
birth in the couple's living room. "It was much more relaxing," said
Teeple. "There was no anxiety about when to go to the hospital ."
Obstetrician-led births are increasingly being viewed as an unnecessary
cost and a cash cow for hospitals . One in three births now involves a
cesarean section , among the most costly of medical procedures. In 2008,
national costs for a cesarean section averaged $14,894 versus $8,919
for vaginal births, according to a recent article in the Boston Globe.
In contrast, home births can be limited to modest midwifery fees.
Of greater concern than costs is the rise in maternal mortalities. In
California, the mortality rate of women dying during pregnancy has
tripled in a decade, according to the report authors from California
Watch which conclude: "it's more dangerous to give birth in California
than it is in Kuwait or Bosnia." Major causes cited include obesity and
complications from cesarean sections. Post-cesarean births pose even
greater risks due to scarring that can cause birth complications. In
response, natural birth advocacy groups such as Birth Connections are
supporting the growing trend toward vaginal births after cesareans
Many argue that childbirth had been taken out of its natural setting.
European journalist, Evita Ramparte, who is spearheading a Media
Campaign for Conscious Motherhood, explains, "In Europe, women deliver
with midwives. Midwives handle most deliveries naturally, with great
success! Doctors intervene only in emergencies. In America- it's exactly
vice versa! Midwives are pushed to the margin, and instead young,
college-graduates ob/gyn swat teams assist at regular birth. It seems
America has trained far too many obstetricians, and far too few
As the protesters outside of St. John's hospital demonstrate, many
Americans agree with Ramparte's observation that childbirth does not
require ob/gym "swat teams." Before women visited hospitals to give
birth, midwives and other informal specialists helped pregnant mothers
deliver their babies. Anthropologically speaking, some women in
different cultures (including parts of New Guinea and Africa) have been
known to successfully give birth by themselves, without assistance from
doctors , midwives, or family members.
The statistics clearly support a growing preference for natural child
birth. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the
number of women giving birth with a midwife has been steadily increasing
since 1975 and has doubled since 1990. St. John's ban may be a result of
insecurity from doctors. "Are doctors feeling insecure? They surely
should be, seeing how peacefully babies are born without their
high-tech interventions," notes Ramparte.
About the author Allison Biggar is a writer and filmmaker who believes
in using the media to empower people to make a difference.
Allison is directing a documentary on people who have cured themselves
of disease naturally without drugs, surgery, chemotherapy or radiation.
You can visit her Natural Health web site at www.holisticvoice.org .