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Hospital Decides It's Not Safe Enough for Midwives

babyA California hospital has decided it’s not safe enough for midwives – so they’ve kicked the healthcare practitioners out the door, and their patients along with them.

St. John’s Pleasant Valley Hospital told certified nurse midwives they’ll have to see their patients at a sister facility eleven miles away from now on. According to the Ventura County Star, that sister facility has a NICU, which hospital adminstrators say the midwives need as “back up.”

To which the thousands of women who opt for a midwife assisted birth in a hospital say, “huh?”

Midwives are traditionally the choice for women who are at low-risk for complications. Responsible for delivering eight percent of the nation’s babies (ninety-six percent in hospital settings – we’re not debating the safety of home birth here), certified nurse midwives have even been shown in some studies to reduce the risk of infant and newborn deaths.

With a CNM, the rate of C-sections for low-risk births is lower than with their OB/GYN counterparts, and the care is generally more hands-on, more in touch with the patient during labor and delivery. For women who want the hospital setting but don’t need the doctor, midwives are a perfect solution. As their name implies, they’re midway between the two worlds.

So why would midwives need a NICU back up? The statistics would point to them being at the lowest risk of delivering a baby who would land in a NICU. OB/GYNs, called more often to assist at higher risk births, are still free to practice as they please at St. John’s.

It sounds like someone is doing a little chest thumping. Doctor. Good. Nurse. Bad.

Why do midwives still get the bad rap when statistics have helped prove their mettle? Is it because we still think more intervention is better or is does it come down – as some commentors on the Ventura article noted – to misogyny?

Image: gabi menasche, flickr

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