What Will This Home Birth Summit Look Like?

The upcoming Home Birth Summit, supported by funding from the Transforming Birth Fund, is raising numerous questions in my mind, and for numerous others, such as: 

  • How are the agreed-upon ‘stakeholders’ being represented?  How are consumers, in particular, being chosen?
  • What percentage of invited participants have direct experience with home birth?  In my opinion, a representation of 1/3 HB midwives, 1/3 CNMs, and 1/3 OBs would not be an appropriate proportion from the practitioner group.
  • Why exactly is the American College of Nurse-Midwives interested in the issue of homebirth considering that very few actually attend home births?
  • Given the above question, I’d like to know if the home birth midwifery organizations (NARM, MANA) submitted a grant application?
  • How will the outcomes make home birth more accessible and more safe?  Will an outcome be that hospital systems and serving on-call OBs will be more respectful toward homebirth transfers?  Will OBs begin offering back-up services to homebirth midwives?  What might that look like?
  • What are the potential positive outcomes of this summit?
  • What are the potential negative outcomes of this summit, especially considering that the need for this summit originated outside of homebirth midwifery?

With permission, I share the following e-mail from retired homebirth midwife, Linda Bennett:

Are you invited? Who is going?

I have concerns about this “Summit”. I want to encourage communication with invited participants the same way I have encouraged communication with our elected representatives. These participants have been appointed to represent the interests of mothers, families, and, coordinated by a midwifery group, I also assume the interests of midwives. I have every hope this will be the case. My long experience with some of the groups that have been invited raises some doubt.

The “Home Birth Summit”, scheduled for some time and some place in the Fall of 2011, is being coordinated by the organization called “Future Search”. The ACNM originated and identified a need to hold this “Summit”.

The American College of Midwives has many CNM members who actively support families and mothers who want a low-tech physiologic labor and birth in the hospital, in birthing centers and at home. CNMs have demonstrated over and over the value of personalized physiologic management that dramatically reduces unnecessary major surgery while improving outcomes. Their work continues to be overlooked, ignored and impeded by Obstetric professionals in overt and subtle ways. If this summit was only held with these particular participants I would have little concern for the outcome.

Unfortunately the ACNM also has very vocal and politically active members who oppose home birth and/or non-nurse midwifery on local and national levels. Here in Oregon we have the “Home Birth Safety” committee organized by L&D nurses and CNMs in Portland at OHSU for instance. Nothing they have done has improved home birth safety in Oregon, rather their actions have polarized the birthing community and has caused even more mothers to consider unassisted home birth for their VBAC attempts after multiple cesareans.

It should not surprise the ACNM and Future Search organizers that home birth families, midwives with home birth practices, and long-standing Birth Activist groups and individuals feel uncertainty about the outcome of a “Summit” top-heavy with groups who have a history of opposition to maternal choice as well as to the independent practice of midwifery.

We have a vested interest in this “Summit” as its pronouncements will be used against maternal choice at every possible opportunity. Statements made in any documents released as a result of this “Summit” will be entered into testimony for or against legislation affecting mothers, families, home birth and midwives across the USA.

Amy Tuteur is an example of a vociferous emotionally-charged tea-party-esque commentator on the subject of home birth. She is not an expert on home birth. She has never been to one. In order to be allowed to deliver another baby in the hospital she would be required to re-train. If she is in any shape or form part of this “Summit” then it will be obvious that it will not represent the interests of mothers, families or address the real concerns of home birth.

Is Lynn Paltrow invited? Her work with NAPW has been as one of the most effective advocates for mothers in the USA in the tradition of  Doris Haire.

The reality is that home birth exists in the form it is currently functioning in the USA because of what it offers mothers and families AND because of what hospital-based ACOG-controlled maternity care does not.

Please communicate to individuals carefully selected for participation in this “Home Birth Summit”. They have been selected to represent you.

Future Search
4700 Wissahickon Ave, Suite 126
Philadelphia PA 19144
800-951-6333 or 215-951-0328
fsn@futuresearch.net

Here are additional links you might find interesting: