Childbirth in America – Research Paper – Abigail Thomas
Childbirth in America
The birth of a child is a pivotal time in the life of a mother and her family. Historically, midwives controlled the majority of births, and involved doctors only when complications arose (Haasch). In the early 1900’s, having a baby at home was the norm, while hospitals provided the medical supplies necessary for illness and surgery only. However, around the 1950’s, hospitals started delivering infants because they believed that they could provide a cleaner and more controlled environment. In addition, “many women had begun to neutralize the millennia of all-female tradition and allowed men into the birthing rooms since they believed that male physicians promoted additional security against the potential dangers of childbirth” (Leavitt, 33). The driving factor behind women seeking these services was “the offer of what was thought to be a safer birth, and the search for pain-free childbirth without risks” (Haasch). Today, hospitals are the main resource for deliveries, while home births have become much less widely used. Home births in the United States can be a better delivery option than hospital births for educated low risk mothers because it allows mothers to exercise control of their birthing procedure, reduces the exposure to potentially harmful drugs, unnecessary medical intervention, and costs less than a hospital birth.
Many mothers and mothers-to-be in modern day America have opted for the use of a home birth over hospital births because they possess complete control. During a home birth labor, “mothers are able to devise a birth plan in which the mother decides where the birth will be, who will attend, and whether or not medical interventions will be used” (Cook and Loomis). However, in hospitals, mothers are not given complete control over their birthing process because doctors who are authoritative and knowledgeable figures, often include their input, and sometimes has the final say in the decision of the birthing procedure. During a home birth labor, mothers are able to “communicate and devise a plan with a midwife, which would be used throughout the whole delivery process” (Cook and Loomis). During the consultation between the mother and her care provider, “the midwife seeks to inform the mother with knowledge pertaining to the birthing process”(Cook and Loomis). However, the mother’s birthing expectations are explicitly communicated to the midwife, and thus should be followed. In contrast, mothers who choose to deliver in hospitals may not be granted the same opportunity to presume complete control over their birthing process because of the hospital’s regulations or for the very fact that some mothers walk into hospitals uneducated about their pregnancy and birthing procedures. Ofttimes, when mothers are uneducated, it is easy for doctors to “lure patients into agreeing for the use of inessential cesarean section” or to even take the lead and “abandon obstetrics altogether”, despite the fact that some of these options might be the best option for mothers (McCartney). Subsequently, when mothers decide to have home births, they are given the full advantage of self-medicating their labor pain as “the midwife encourages their patients to move around, and use intermittent rather than continuous monitoring (Fit Pregnancy). Yet in hospitals, “some doctors want their patients in bed with an IV, hooked up to a continuous fetal monitor,” providing evidence that mothers are more in control during their birthing procedure when it is done at home than in a hospital because obstetricians have more strict protocols than midwives (Fit Pregnancy). When mothers choose to have an at home birth, they do not have to worry about their decisions being contradicted or disapproved by doctors because at home they are given more of an authoritative role in their birthing procedure.
Home births without a doubt, provide the least intrusive kind of birthing environment because minimal medical interventions and exposure to drugs are used, which allow mothers to have a more natural birth. However, these medical interventions that are avoided in home births, and which can cause harm to the mother and baby in some cases, are common practices for doctors in hospital deliveries. Cesarean section which is known to be an involved and risky procedure that should only be used in state of emergency, has become much more common. As a result, the rates of C-sections have skyrocketed in the U.S., marking this as a problematic issue in the medical field because “women who are perfectly healthy and capable of having a normal delivery are undergoing major surgery when it is completely unnecessary; most times, the decision to perform a C-section is based on the physician’s judgement” (Livescience). Furthermore, “rates of Cesarean section vary from hospital to hospital, and especially between countries,” emphasizing that the criteria for operative delivery are not universally
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(2017, 07). Childbirth in America. EssaysForStudent.com. Retrieved 07, 2017, from