OSU Study Reveals Conflict between Doctors, Midwives over Homebirth
CORVALLIS, Ore. Two Oregon State University researchers have uncovered a pattern of distrust—and sometimes outright antagonism—among physicians at hospitals and midwives who are transporting their homebirth clients to the hospital because of complications.(...)
The findings revealed that assisted homebirths did not appear to be contributing to the lower-than-average health outcomes and, in fact, that the homebirths documented all had successful outcomes. But even more importantly to Cheyney, discussions with doctors and midwives uncovered a deep mistrust between the two groups of birthing providers, with doctors expressing the firm belief that only hospital births are safe, while midwives felt marginalized, mocked and put on the defensive when in contact with physicians.
Cheyney, who is a practicing midwife in addition to being an assistant professor of medical anthropology and reproductive biology, said she was surprised that physicians, when presented with scientifically conducted research that indicates homebirths do not increase infant mortality rates, still refuse to believe that births outside of the hospital are safe.
"Medicine is a social construct, and it's heavily politicized," she said.(...)
"I do get some pushback from physician friends who say that I'm too open and too supportive," he said. "My answer, to quote (President) Obama, is that dialogue is always a good idea."
Qualtere-Burcher said he believes that if midwives felt more comfortable contacting physicians with medical questions or concerns, there would be a greater chance that women would get medical help when they needed it.
"Treat (midwives) with respect, as colleagues, and they'll not be afraid to call," he said.
While Qualtere-Burcher believes it would be wonderful, but Utopian, for all midwives to agree to seek medical assistance under the guidelines they're proposing, and for all physicians to learn to deal more collegially with midwives, he hopes that if a small group on each side agrees to the plan, it will provide more evidence that a stronger relationship between physicians and midwives will lead to better outcomes for mothers and infants.
Last year the American Medical Association passed Resolution 205, which states: "the safest setting for labor, delivery and the immediate post-partum period is in the hospital, or a birthing center within a hospital complex" The resolution was passed in direct response to media attention on home births, the AMA stated.
What is interesting, Cheyney points out, is that 99 percent of American births occur in the hospital, but the United States has one of the highest infant mortality rates of any developed country, with 6.3 deaths per 1,000 babies born. Meanwhile, the Netherlands, where a third of deliveries occur in the home with the assistance of midwives, has a lower rate of 4.73 deaths per 1,000.(...)
Meanwhile, the patient, whose intention was not to have a hospital birth, is already feeling upset at the change in birth plan, and is now watching her care provider come into conflict with the stranger who is about to deliver her baby.