What if I go into labor, and the hospital is full of flu patients? What if hospitals become overrun with contagious carriers of a deadly virus? Who has the specialized portable equipment and knows how to help women give birth safely without all the risky drugs that most American hospital staffs rely on? Obstetricians do not understand natural childbirth nor how to help women avoid the need for risky pain relief. If we want our babies to be truly safe during epidemics, the answer is clearly making sure that those midwives who are certified in home birth can serve moms and babies.
The H1-N1 flu has many in the birth community collectively thinking, saying or typing ... "we told you so!"
With nearly half the country failing to license certified professional midwives, our nation's experts in low-tech out-of hospital birth, we are left to wonder: who will care for women giving birth in times of disaster? Do we really want our most vulnerable and precious newborn babies coming into this world where sick people are being housed?
“Thankfully, the hospital where the toddler died doesn’t provide obstetric services. But if the flu continues to spread at predicted levels, it’s just a matter of time before healthy mothers and newborns are going to start getting exposed. It’s absolutely critical that we begin recruiting Certified Professional Midwives to our local, regional and national disaster preparedness plans,” stated Katherine Prown of the national Big Push Campaign, which advocates independent, legal practice for certified professional midwives and nurse-midwives alike. "It was only reported later that the child was treated in a children's hospital, but that's no comfort when a woman is in labor and hears a vague new report about flu in her area."
Prown's thoughts are echoed by many birth advocates like Jacque Shannon-McNulty, a childbirth educator, doula who is also with the groupChicago Commuity Midwives posted a link to a USA Today article about the 91 cases confirmed in the U.S, along with her own comment:
Healthy moms and babies need special protections in place for birth during a flu pandemic. We need to ensure that these women and their babies have safe out of hospital birth options available to minimize the risks of swine flu transmission to vulnerable, healthy populations. What's the best way to minimize needless neonatal deaths from a flu pandemic? Keep healthy moms and new babies away from sick people and the virulent flu viruses flooding the hospitals. It's a simple, cost-effective and appropriate measure. Moms are already thinking about this- our elected officials need to be proactive here, protect these moms and babies and pass the Homebirth Safety Act as soon as possible.
The Coalition's president, Michelle Breen, MHS, is driven not only by data and science but also common sense:
"The Chicago area could have about 90 cases of swine flu in the next three weeks". ([quoting National Public Radio} How long will it take for the General Assembly to pass the Home Birth Safety Act?
Shouldn't Illinois do everything possible to increase the number of licensed home birth experts so that families can decide about place of birth and associated risks?
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