Birth centers and their failure to support us

I recently posted about a birth center in OK that clearly states its refusal to allow VBACs at its facility.  This is leading me into a related area of advocacy need – VBACs and birth centers.

Women who carry regret with regard to their previous “birth” experiences do have special needs.  We don’t necessarily have special medical needs.  No, our needs are more specific to humane treatment and care and the desire to labor and deliver naturally as God intended.  We should be the target consumers for birth centers.  We’re not.

We can scream all we want about our cesarean scars.  We can cry until we’re blue in the face.  We can advocate and try and educate whether our own sense of Truth is appreciated or not.  (You can bring a horse to water . . . that old addage.)  We can argue with providers endlessly and risk another unpleasant birth experience or dismissal from their practices.  We can simply decide to deliver our children in hospitals (where it’s “safe”) or elsewhere (where it’s “not”).

That’s just not good enough.

I pay at least as much money as the next person for health care coverage.  “You” want to treat me as a consumer?  Ok, I am a health care consumer/customer, and since the customer is always right, then I want what I want.  Don’t like it?  Then I should have the right to tell you to buzz off.  You should be clamoring and competing to assist me with my health needs.  You should be offering me not only superior services but also a “can do” attitude with a back rub if I so desire.

I expect to have choices.  I should be able to select a birth center (I have one right here in my town) to deliver my next child.  The more research I do, the less I want to deal with a hospital again.  Been there – done that.  The only time I’ve been hospitalized was for child birth.  How stupid is that?  And I had to stay 4 days because they cut me open!  And I was terrified to go home because I had been treated like a patient – a very sick patient, actually.

Birth centers all over the country are closing.  Birth centers all over the country are limiting their services to pregnant women.  I was just told about the American Association of Birth Centers whose mission statement claims: “[The] AABC is dedicated to the promotion of the rights of healthy women and their families, in all communities, to birth their children in an environment which is safe, sensitive and economical with minimal intervention.”  Their information is hardly current.  Look at their brief and lacking position on the “definition” of a birth center, it is dated October 1995!  And the APHA birth center licensing guidelines are from 1982!?!

It does not help that ACOG has been involved recently.  They decided amongst themselves (late 2006) that “the hospital, including a birthing center within a hospital complex, that conforms to the standards outlined by American Academy of Pediatrics and ACOG, is the safest setting for labor, delivery, and the immediate postpartum period.”  This sort of explains why our local hospital is making the OBs labor sit (against their will) all VBACs and why our birth center doesn’t admit VBACers.

When are the birth centers and their advocacy and licensing groups going to show some backbone?  Are they trying to stay low profile so that the big brother agencies don’t shut them down and/or make them obsolete?  Are birth centers and groups such as the AABC fighting back?  Nothing I have seen indicates that they are.  No, they’re relying on all of those “normal” women with “normal” “low-risk” pregnancies to keep them in business and relevant.

I’m going to continue to monitor this situation.  I also owe a letter to my local birth center, hospital, and insurance carrier.    I will also write to the AABC and APHA.  I hope you will do the same.

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One thought on “Birth centers and their failure to support us

  1. My partner & I are experienced Licensed Midwives here in Southern California. Elena is actually a licensed physician in Mexico and licensed here in California as an LM. I hold a Masters Degree in Health Care Administration as well as my midwifery degree in licensure. To say we’re “unusual” as midwives is an understatement. However, education is the key to having enough Licensed Midwives to assist women at home or birth center births, including VBAC. Our new birth center, AquaNatal Birth Spa caters to women who need a “trial of labor” that doesn’t automatically end in a section. Water birth is amazingly powerful for this — and our clients do VERY WELL. So our target market is women desiring VBAC and waterbirth, as well as ‘primips’ first-time mothers, so they are not damaged unnecessarily. We’re not laying low — so if you want this service, you need to “Support Your Local Midwife.” Safe Birthing Information Network provides information for safe VBAC at a birth center or at home.

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