Monday, September 14, 2009

NBC, ACOG and midwives, Oh My!

The machine for mass instruction, the media (especially NBC), gets an "D-" for last week's dismally un-evidence-based coverage of birth in the U.S. The NBC interview was nearly simultaneous (September 10, 2009) with the ACOG release of their 2009 Medical Liability Survey (September 11, 2009), admitting that more than 63% of ob-gyns report making changes to their practice due to the risk or fear of liability claims or litigation; 60% have made changes to their practice because liability insurance is either unavailable or unaffordable. "

Not making changes in maternity care for the health of women and babies or because of requests.

Perhaps the definition of journalism should be changed to: the machine for selective mass instruction based on the spin to which the catalysts wishes.

Absent from NBC's report were the myriad of studies showing the safety of midwifery births and the negative outcomes of hospital-based physician centered births. Absent from the NBC report was the CDC report saying that homebirth was actually safer than hospital births. Absent was any interview from "the other side", from any midwifery group such as ACNM or others. Instead, NBC exploited the grief of a couple whose baby died due to an apparent nuchal cord. There is absolutely no denial that this is a tragic and horrific event. To exploit it, is deplorable.

Explaining that the recent surge of homebirths (nearly 27% increase in the last decade) attended by midwives is similar to going to the spa, NBC preferred to quote ACOG saying that hospitals are the safest place to give birth, rather than report on the evidence which proves otherwise. No one bothered to mention about the rise in cesarean rates (elective or "clincially indicated"), elective induction or the suspicious rise in near-term preterm infants. Additionally, no one bothered to mention the fact that many physicians discourage their patients/clients/customers from attending childbirth education classes and discourage them from using doulas.

And suspicously present was the familiar rhetoric used by ACOG in recent months in describing the message of films such as the Business of Being Born, Orgasmic Birth and Pregnant in America: a cause celebre, fashionable, and trendy: slamming natural birth, midwifery and homebirth and terming them "extreme". And coming very close to personally attacking Cara Muhlhahn, the midwife who was featured in the Business of Being Born.

NBC made several positive points: showing Marsden Wagner M.D., a couple who successfully birthed a 10 lbs at home, and repeatedly calling for discussion.

Several organizations have released statements about the NBC report:

Response from Lamaze

Response from The Big Push For Midwifery

And here is the report itself. If you choose to respond, please do so at!

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