Sunday, August 14, 2011

Pie Chart In The Sky, Home Birth Mortality In Perspective

Becoming a mommy is a literal experience beyond words. There are no adequate descriptions to define motherhood in a relatable way, to one who has never experienced it.  One has to live it, it to understand it. So when we’ve experienced that induction to mommyhood, like billions before us, harm that could come to those precious souls seem unimaginable, but heartbreakingly,  it happens every day.

The media capitalizes and sensationalizes home birth deaths, particularly so if a midwife is in attendance. Many of these stories are reported in an “I Told You So”  format designed to prove the dangers of a home birth, I’m compelled to point out that if the demise of a child that occurs at home is newsworthy, then we must discuss the infant mortality ranking that casts a dark shadow on the United States as a whole.

Considering that home births attribute to one percent of total births in the country, can we logically conclude it to be the source of what ails our failing health grade in maternity and infant care?  Common sense dictates no.

Fact: As of today, we rank 177th with 6.06 deaths per 1,000 live births. The number one spot being the highest death rate (currently Angola with 175.90 per 1,000) and 223 being the lowest (currently Monaco with 1.79 per 1,000).

Here are some countries that are faring better than us…Japan, Italy, Spain and Cuba in that order , just to name a few.  How does a country that “spends” the most capita per birth, not end up in the top five, or at least the top ten? We rank 46th on that list. That’s 46 places below the best ranking in the world.

Home birth deaths have absolutely no bearing in a country where ninety-nine percent of moms give birth in hospitals. In other words, our infant mortality rank is a reflection of the majority, not the miniscule minority. Anti-home birth proponents eagerly wag their finger in hypocritical disgust at every home birth passing, a distraction from the real issue at hand… infant mortality ranking is not common knowledge amongst moms planning hospital births. I’ve been party to conversations when someone will quote a news source about a home birth death, and yet know nothing of these vital statistics, sure to play a part in their own birth experience.

What can I say? While we maintain our 46th place,  cesarean rates continue to rise, prematurity rates continue without pause and maternal mortality rates all testify as to why we deserve spot number 46.

All of this happens in a land of democracy, where women birth with limited choices, and even more limited autonomy. It puts “birth control” in a whole new light.  When one seriously considers the statistics of the whole, compared to statistics of the part, home birth is undoubtedly a real and viable option.

 

Sources:

World Fact Book – CIA

If you’re interested in more information on the subject of infant mortality rate/ranking of our country, please check out the links complied on the left sidebar under “Infant Mortality Rate”.

 

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