I don't know if I've ever heard anything more fabulous. New York City midwives are getting inundated with calls from women seeking their services. Some have doubled and tripled the number of births they attend each month. More and more women are rejecting the medicalized model of birth and turning to midwives. Music to my ears!
For years I have pondered and schemed in my mind--what can I do to improve maternity care in the U.S.? Should we focus on making hospitals more mother-friendly? Should we create a new type of birthing facility--a hybrid of a high-level labor/delivery unit and a free-standing birth center? Should we focus on demanding evidence-based care from obstetricians? Should we try to help women make more educated choices in their pregnancies and births? Or should we just "let things be" since sometimes it seems that most women don't really care?
I don't know the answers to those questions, but I do know that ultimately we can really only change ourselves. As much as I sometimes wish I could force doctors, hospitals, the system, and women themselves to change, I know I can't and shouldn't ever have that ability. And, as I read in the New York Times about the increase in midwife-attended home births, I realized that change may come much slower than I'd like, but it is coming. And that change can only come as each individual woman decides to embrace it.
Do I have fantasies of a world in which all women give birth without drugs, attended by midwives? No. Of course not. The world absolutely needs the highly specialized and valuable skills of obstetricians. And thank heaven for the life-saving technologies and drugs available in hospitals for emergencies. There are countless women who would have been unable to bear children without modern medicine's gifts.
But I do have fantasies of a world in which women have faith in their bodies and the birth process and are given the support and encouragement they need to come away from their births empowered and strengthened. I envision a world with fewer post-partum scars and more smiles. I long to see the end of practices unsupported by scientific evidence and the ascension of truly evidence-based medicine. I do hope to see the Midwives Model of Care become the foundation of our maternity care system accompanied by true respect and cooperation between doctors and midwives as they mutually aim to give women and their babies the best possible care available.
What's happening in New York City with midwives and home birth is happening in other cities as well. Maternity care in the U.S. will improve only as women reject the broken system and choose a better model. Doctors and hospitals and insurance companies will have no choice but to adapt to the groundswell of change. I thank you brave women (and men) who are the beginnings of that wave. You are doing a tremendous service for women both now and in the future.
Have you seen this change happen within yourself? Do you see this wave of change happening around you? Please share!