For my friends, it's no surprise for them to hear me talk about my future at-home, midwife-assisted-water-birth where my favorite women will be in my womb circle, surrounding me with their positive energy as I give birth to new life. However, women in 23 states may not have the option of choosing how or where to birth. In 23 states, Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs) are not legally authorized to practice midwifery thus pushing the birthing standards in these states further towards the medicalized model.
Sure, some birthing women actually need the special care that only a hospital can offer, but for the other healthy women--why is it necessary to give birth in a hospital? Because we as a society have been taught not to trust women, and especially not to trust women's bodies.
The Midwives Model of Care is based on trusting women's bodies and the process of birth. Also--
"The application of this woman-centered model of care has been proven to reduce the incidence of birth injury, trauma, and cesarean section."
Obstetrician-gynecologists are trained to look for problems and view labor and birth as a series of potentially disastrous problems that they are there to "fix". For these medical professionals, drugs and procedures are the answer and women play a rather passive role in their own labor.
Consider too that until recently almost all OBGYNs were male and that the women who are now obstetricians are taught by males, with curricula written by men. Sexism is rampant throughout the OBGYN model, and women's bodies are viewed as passive, weak and untrusted to do what they are built to do during labor. As you can imagine, this innately gender biased model results in an extremely high cesarean rate, increased use of pitocin, oxytocin, epidural and episiotomy--most of which are unnecessary and can cause harm to mother and child.
Midwifery NEEDS to be a model more trusted in our society--and legalized in the remaining 23 states of the U.S. Until then, we will continue to have high maternal mortality rates, high cesarean rates and births that are the result of drugs and procedures rather than the woman's body--when it's ready--giving birth naturally and safely.
That's it for Part I of this series. For folks interested in reading more, I recommend The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth. It's a tremendously valuable resource.