In my previous post i set the stage, as i see it, for the contemporary home birth debate, which for all its bluster orbits around only a few key disagreements. These appear to be whether (1) planning for home versus hospital delivery and (2) certified nurse-midwifery versus certified professional midwifery matter to the safety of the birth process.
Disclaimer: If you’re looking for advice, go somewhere else.
perinatal and neonatal mortality
To give context to these contentions, and to get a feel for the kind of research they rely upon, let’s review some of the most widely-cited studies that deal with the question of fetus/infant mortality. (The following four studies are illustrative of the sources of disagreement between home and hospital birth advocates, but as a sample they should not be taken as representative of the broader literature.) Read more…
My sister asked me some unexpectedly provocative questions recently: When it comes to giving birth, what do i think about “natural” techniques like water birth and involving fewer interventions? or of home deliveries as an alternative to hospital deliveries? or of midwifery?
I’ve learned to be skeptical of any medical product or procedure that presents itself as “natural”, or as an alternative to an established convention. To the extent that we can use products produced in ways that are less destabilizing to ecosystems or more compatible with our bodily configurations and processes, “natural” medicine sounds great. Unfortunately, “natural” products and procedures are typically better described as “unsubstantiated” or “unregulated”. Meanwhile, the hype around alternative medicine seems to be premised more on disillusionment with establishment medicine than on any successes by its challengers.
On midwifery generally, i had only limited exposure, but enough to make me cautious.
So, my biases acknowledged, i dove into the literature…and some of the conclusions i came to surprised me. So, let’s get to it.*
In an encouraging decision, regional pediatric clinic Physicians to Children will now require parents to vaccinate their children — on schedule — in order to maintain a relationship with the clinic. From their revised policy (italics mine):
We firmly believe that vaccinating children and young adults may be the single most important health-promoting intervention we perform as Pediatricians and that you can perform as parents/caregivers. The recommended vaccines and their schedule are the results of decades of scientific study and data gathering on millions of children by thousands of bright, caring, and compassionate scientists and physicians.
. . .
We firmly believe, based on all available literature, evidence and current studies, that vaccines DO NOT cause autism or developmental disabilities. We firmly believe that the components and preservatives used in vaccines for decades do not cause developmental, immune, or other medical disabilities.
Over the past several years, many people have chosen not to vaccinate their children due to misguided concerns regarding autism and potential adverse reactions. As a result of under-immunization, there have been outbreaks nationwide and worldwide of measles, mumps, and whooping cough. These outbreaks have resulted in unnecessary and preventable deaths.
Notice that stuff about scientific studies? That’s what distinguishes modern medicine from the bloodletters of the prescience era and the modern charlatanry to which it gave rise. It’s what distinguishes the assertion that vaccines prevent illness from the assertion that vaccines are linked to autism.