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:

Impactful Tweets (pt 2) from ICAN Conference

Looks like @DeepSouthDoula is the winner of cool tweets, part 2.  I’ll have to tell her the amazing news, LoL!  Looks like there will have to be a part 3 tonight.  Henci Goer has already made some great points, and she’s only just gotten started!  w00t!!  Here’s the link to part 1 if you missed that post.

DeepSouthDoula Abdominal scars can change your overall body mechanics for the worse. #ICAN2011
Interesting how people don’t consider what happens to the muscles and especially the connective tissue as a result of this major abdominal surgery.  I’m a professional opera singer and rely on the entire abdominal complex to support my sound.  This includes the pelvic floor.  This entire structure has been permanently altered.  Have you considered how your cesarean might (will) affect you physically?

poderyparto Herrera: People should see a c/s. Once they ser it they’ll start asking more questions. #ICAN2011
This is an interesting statement.  I just don’t imagine your average woman would be interested or even willing to watch a cesarean surgery.  And really, it’s different being in the room when one is happening versus seeing it on TV or YouTube.

Preparing4Birth: #ICAN2011 @ICANtweets Insurance company should not mandate how doc works. Write congressman. A state issue
This is HUGE.  I was aggravated to learn from my OB that his malpractice insurance doesn’t cover vaginal breech delivery.  He’s an older doctor, so of course, he knows how to do it.  I think it is incredibly unfair that my second birth was dictated by someone else’s friggin’ insurance!!!

Ethologicmom #ICAN2011 amazing that dice didn’t realize that women choose or are forced into hbacmom by bans and lack of support!
Dice?  I have no idea.  But yes, women increasingly choose homebirth and unassisted birth because they ultimately feel unsupported by some (or all) careproviders.  A woman who feels forced into homebirth or unassisted birth are not ideal candidates for those settings.  A woman should have access to the care she desires.  We’re the ones paying for it!!!

DeepSouthDoula The only true way to know if you will have a successful VBAC is to try. #ICAN2011
I just can’t imagine not trying . . . even though people would try to scare me out of it.  Fearmongering is not the way to go, folks . . . studying the evidence is!

drpoppyBHRT How do we “grow” supportive providers? #VBAC @BirthingKristin #ICAN2011 #NIHVBAC
I imagine that since newer docs are typically less willing to recommend VBAC (based on NIH VBAC consensus report), that now that the ACOG recommendation has been revised, perhaps the new generation of OBs will be less resistant.  This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be doing everything we can to positively affect our local birth culture!

DeepSouthDoula Any person pregnant or not has the right to refuse medical treatment – even in an emergency. Goes for refusing CS. #ICAN2011
One of my friends is having her 3rd VBAC after cesarean.  We were performing out of town, and she thought the local hospital didn’t allow VBACs.  She was relieved to learn (from me . . . yay me!) that she did NOT have to consent to a cesarean if she had the misfortune of going into labor in that town.  On the other hand, it would have been an opportunity for us to ‘educate’ that particular hospital on the rights of childbearing women! ;)

DeepSouthDoula Have the NIH & ACOG statements ready & use them to our advantage. #ICAN2011
Great advice!  I’m on Spring Break right now, and honestly, I’m just now getting around to reading the NIH VBAC Consensus report.  Eye opening, really.  I’ve “clipped” out the conclusion summary and points within the detailed section of the statement that directly apply to my situation or to issues that seem most critical to me.  I will be bringing some of this information with me as I interview an OB regarding VBA2C.

DeepSouthDoula SHARE – ORGANIZE – PROMOTE – CHANGE. Make connections through social media. #ICAN2011
Following the #ICAN2011 channel has shown me that a lot of birthies are now quite active on twitter.  I guess I’ll pay more attention to twitter . . . at least for a while.  Birthies and moms are welcome to request to follow me – @labortrials.


Monkeying in the VBAC BS

These sorts of stories are so common and so infuriating . . .

A fellow ICAN lister posted a recent conversation with a midwife regarding VBA2C (VBAC after 2 cesareans).  The midwife didn’t really even know VBAC rates and quoted this woman a rupture rate of “um, I think like 6-8%” for VBA2C.  Where did she get that statistic?  I’m thinking it came from her . . . “um”.

The midwife called her back shortly thereafter to give her the ACOG act:  Rupture rate for VBAC after one cesarean is 1-3% and after two cesareans the risk is (supposedly) 5 times greater, somewhere in the amorphous neighborhood of 5-17%.  Was this woman given any references?  Well, no of course not.  You have to ask them, and then watch them squirm, and then of course they don’t have that information readily available.  Give us a primary author for chrissake!  Can’t you at least remember an author?  Or is your “author” ACOG?  ACOG the trade union.  ACOG is NOT a research-based college.  The fact that “college” is in their name makes me sick.

Luckily for women across the country and all over the world, there exist numerous evidence-based transparent resources for women who would otherwise get cut.  I talk about them here like a broken record, but it’s necessary.  Again, here’s where I recommend you start:

If your care providers aren’t aware of these organizations (ICAN, CIMS, Childbirth Connections), please refer them to these sites.  And here is one recent study that they should have read already:

Landon, MB et al.  “Risk of uterine rupture with a trial of labor in women with multiple and single prior cesarean delivery.”  Obstetrics and Gynecology.  July 2006;108(1):12-20.