labor nurse has been reborn and shares her experiences as a new nurse-midwife, woman, and blogger

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Born in the USA

Born in the USA: How a Broken Maternity System Must be Fixed to Put Women and Children First by Marsden Wagner is a must read for anyone who has been born, given birth, or plans to give birth. But I warn you that it may upset those who have beliefs rooted in our contemporary maternity care system. You are in for a rude awakening. For others, you may end up with neck strain from nodding your head in agreeance so frequently on issues you may already be aware of. And you'll find reaffirmations in how pissed off you are. Like me.

Marsden Wagner is a perinatalogist whose background is quite extensive. He began his medical career in pediatrics and continued to train in the specialty of perinatalogy and perinatal epidemiology. He taught in the UCLA medical school and was also the Director of Maternal and Child Health for the California State Health Department. He later went on to become the Director of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Women’s and Children’s Health division. He’s written multiple scientific papers and has been a consultant within many countries through out the world. He is an advocate for midwifery care for normal low risk women.

This book covers what is wrong with our current system, the history of obstetrics and midwifery in our country, and the politics behind maternity care. It includes compelling real life cases. He cites a multitude of scientific literature to further his points. However, he points out how many obstetricians in our country either ignore the scientific research, or make up their own to back up their unsafe and unnecessary interventions. For instance, the use of the drug Cytotec is extensively discussed. Cytotec is frequently used to induce labor. However, it is not approved for this use and furthermore both the drug manufacturer and the FDA have released statements against this use. And there are families that can attest to why these statements have been published.

Dr. Wagner’s chapter on the “witch hunt” against midwives in our country is appalling. His discussion as to why this still occurs certainly hits home. I found myself further inspired to fight for women’s rights over their body from conception to birth. There is a pervasive yet underlying belief in our country that birth is a medical event and it must be treated as pathological. And for a small percentage pregnancy complications do lead to necessary medical intervention and treatment. But for the rest of us, birth is a normal and natural process that remains a social event for the woman and her family. Midwifery care understands this difference, and supports it. Other industrialized countries that value this model have lower maternal and neonatal mortality rates. There are about 28 other countries that have better maternal mortality rates than the US and about 41 countries with lower infant mortality rates.

Dr. Wagner also includes suggestions to change our current system and remains realistic in the progress. He advocates for midwifery care and a system that allows access of care for all women. He points out that nothing can change overnight, but is hopeful that change will occur. So am I, but only if we are willing to put in the work to do so.


Midsummer Night said...

I will have to pick up this book. I am always amazed when I read some of your stories of how others have to go through labor. I realize on a big level how lucky I am to have the doctor I do. Her first book she recommended to me when I became pregnant was about midwives and home births!

LeosMama said...

Thank you for helping with the publicity of this book. I wish it would be required reading at medical schools.

I had a lovely and difficult homebirth with a tremendous midwife. I had a complication and if it weren't for our skilled midwife, I would have needed a cesarean section. The baby was badly positioned and I was in agony. The midwife knew how to identify the problem and reposition the baby. After she shook the baby out of my pelvis (I felt her 'pop' free) and then shake her into LOA, the pain went away almost instantly and the baby was born quickly thereafter.

An OB would have recommended an epidural (or I would have demnanded one) and the baby would not have made it through my pelvis.

I am so grateful for our midwife and for homebirth.

AtYourCervix said...

This is an awesome book! As soon as I read a review about it, I had to order it!

This is a *MUST* read for *ALL* women.

Labor Nurse said...

One of the things I didn't mention in my review was how Dr. Wagner was asked to do an interview with a national news station (or some other major media outlet), who had also asked a representative from ACOG to be interviewed. ACOG asked if Dr. Wagner was going to be a part of the discussion, and declined upon learning he would be. Why is this? Because ACOG can not argue Dr. Wagner's facts on many key issues. They don't have any research/evidence to back up their opposition.