Sunday, August 31, 2008

Gail writes to Dr. Phil about his request for homebirth horror stories

Dear Producers and Doctor Phil,

I've watched your show with gratitude from my mother's hospital bed, appreciating the healthy living concepts shared and in doing so, giving us a forum ...

You are seeking homebirth controversy. Why? You are about to examine two cultures and seeming to be willing to pit them against each other. I've been in both the home birth world and the hospital birth world for over 25 years.

...our mothers at home, though the medical model says they are the ones risking death, are giving birth to healthy children, are recovering well and, as one of the points of home birth, are physiologically intact including the love hormones that increase maternal competency and care giving behaviors.

As a doula in the hospital, I see how the supportive care of a woman bringing in a culture of love to the highly technological setting also improves infant and maternal outcomes. The hospital, where yes, people care, but more so, people are terribly afraid and overworked and must think of their legal security before health care.

Even so, as homebirth midwives, certified by means of a federally approved test, which was independently scrutinized seven-times, we work cooperatively with doctors and find an open relationship between home and hospital caregivers gives the most comprehensive care.

Did you know that homebirth midwives have the best maternity outcomes ever found by medical research? Repeatedly!

There is a crisis in maternity care in this country. It should be evident when the US and Cuba have similar infant mortality rates and yet we pay ten times the amount to achieve the same dismal rate. (CDC)

Please consider your platform to be a Gift and think about your full power available to communicate with our American public. To do so, you must come up to date with maternity issues and statistics.

You may like to read the British Medical Journal on homebirth in North America and see the statistics. Please don't stoop to slather your audience, emotionally, in a wallow of controversy.
Rather, present the topic as a cultural nexus, and if you must, an intelligent look at
the danger of jumping in based on ideology instead of developing a cultural competency that provides a way of assessing safety for homebirth. A competency that an experienced midwife can help parents obtain and utilize.

Fear is not a good platform, Dr. Phil. There is a movement going on in the world. You might be against it, but you will be trailing behind the changes surging up through the voices of families. In the 1980s there was a small blip of natural birth and VBAC which the medical intelligentsia has strategically sought to suppress. This time, families have YouTube, independent films, internet and regular gatherings to explore their values and options in childbirth care.

Love really is the answer. And to give birth in love is protective of that Love within which is seeking expression. To give birth in love requires not big-hearted doctors, midwives or nurses, no, its not that simple. To give birth in love is to give birth with the physiological, hormonal signals and processes intact. We have been designed in love. Birth is a sensitive period in which women can overcome much past trauma or disinterest and be born anew as a loving mother. Please check out the work of the esteemed Doctor Marshall Klaus for a better description.

I have much respect for you and yours, Dr. Phil. Lets get this right. We are talking about the cradle of our civilization- the birth and care of our babies and mothers. Its important that you get this right.

Gail Tully
homebirth mother and midwife


DoulaMomma said...

Way to go, Gail...and well said. I hope he gets it (literally & figuratively). said...

This is great! I filled out the form on his site...

WarriorMoM said...

I know this won't be popular with a lot of home birth moms but please bear with me and read my whole statement

Ladies, wymyn -- please stop talking about how wonderful home birth is! Seriously. Here's why:

The most important message to get out there right now is about the problems women face in illegal states (illegal for Certified Professional Midwives, or CPMs). Our ultimate audience with any public statement is always the legislators, and they (lawmakers) are not going to support us if they just keep hearing good stories. This is because they will either (1) feel defensive [if home birth is so great did I make a bad choice?] or (2) think there's not problem, so why change the status quo? The fact is lawmakers need a problem to fix before they can feel justified in passing a new law, so present the problem to them, b/c it is a problem when the state fails to license CPMs.

Like it or not, sometimes a home birth mom needs to go to the hospital, and if her midwife is illegal, that can mean wasted precious time fighting with the hospital staff.

Sometimes (and more so in an illegal state) a person claiming to be a qualified midwife can fudge things. There's good and bad in every profession: doctors, nurses, lawyers, and yes, even midwives. And if the state fails to license home birth midwives (CPMs), then it can be really difficult for a mom to verify qualifications.

It doesn't matter if Dr. Phil has a negative show, b/c you know what? Almost always the response is "that's why we need to license CPMs in all 50 states"

If you're living in a state that's already legal, thank your lucky starts, and please consider lending your support to your sisters in the nearest illegal state. I can assure you that the team working on legislation there is overworked and all-volunteer, and their organization probably needs financial support.

And no, nurse-midwives DO NOT attend home births with very few individual exceptions. In fact, their home birth stats have fallen over the past decade or so (used to be 2% of CNM births took place at home; latest numbers show that only 1% of CNM births take place in the home.)


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