Obstetricians don’t like competition. This week in New York, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists came out swinging against a bill that would have made it easier for women to choose home birth.
Having a home birth isn’t illegal in New York, but the legal hoops the state requires midwives to jump through make it all but unavailable to many Big Apple mamas.
Rather than regulate midwifery directly, the state requires midwives to have written “practice agreements” with obstetricians at nearby hospitals. The obstetrician has to agree to take over care of the midwives patients should an emergency occur.
The state legislature moved to do away with the “written agreement” rule this week, and was met with strong opposition from OBs.
The move has special urgency for New York City midwives. The city has only 13 home birth midwives, and 7 of them are currently not allowed to attend births since the hospital where they had their practice agreements closed last month.
Home births attended by trained midwives are no more risky than hospital births in the U.S. A large scale study of home births in the U.S. found that only 12% transfer to hospitals, and only 3.4% of those transfers are urgent. No maternal deaths have been reported by home birth midwives here, and the infant mortality rate is the same as in a hospital.
Do you think home birth midwives should be free to practice their trade in NYC, or do the OBs have a point?