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Are More Women Turning to Midwives?

The debate over whether hospitals or a private home is the most appropriate place to have a child has long been raging. Of course, the decision is an intimate and personal one, but that has not stopped advocates on both sides from expressing their view on the ideal way to bring a new life into the world. From the perspective of our Illinois birth injury attorneys, there is not a right or wrong answer except that whatever method is used, those leading the delivery must be sure to act reasonably at all times. When the negligence of a doctor, nurse, midwife, or other actor leads to harm to a child or mother, then the law provides the same opportunity for redress.

An Idaho Statesman article touched on the issue recently, noting that there may be a surge in use of midwives as part of a “natural childbirth” process. There are many non-hospital birth centers that are popping up across the country as more women express a desire to give birth outside of a hospital and without the intervention of special equipment or drugs (like an epidural).

Of course, our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers appreciate that discussing the popularity of midwifery should not exaggerate the reality of childbirth in the country. Over ninety percent of expectant mother still choose to have the birth led by a licensed medical doctor in a hospital. However the trend shows a growth in those using alternative means. Those alternatives can be a licensed midwife or a certified nurse-midwife. In fact, some hospitals even offer mother’s use of certified nurse-midwives in their own facility.

Nurse-midwives are particularly attractive to some because of the balance between the natural process and the availability of emergency services if necessary. One mother who recently gave birth using this option stated that “They (nurse mid-wives) know the importance of trying to go as natural as possible and showing you all the different positions but with the convenience that a hospital has to offer and the knowledge [of doctors].”

So what has led to the rise in midwife use? One proponent suggests that it is related to the “maternity health care crisis.” As our birth injury attorneys know, the U.S. has a higher rate of maternal mortality during childbirth than in any other developed country. The midwives’ proponent argues that pregnancies led by midwives tend to have fewer complications. However, others have countered that the reason is that all those with complicated pregnancies end up have a birth in the hospital anyway. The data is far less clear on whether childbirth errors are actually more common among midwives or regular hospital teams.

In any event it will be interesting to see if the rates change in the future. Some speculate that the rise in popularity may continue, particularly as more Medicaid patients are allowed to use licensed midwives and have the care covered by the public insurer. Various states have changed their rules allowing Medicaid recipients to choose licensed midwives to give birth. Without complications, the costs can be lower than those incurred in a regular hospital.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

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