Monday, October 26, 2009

Politicians Promise Pregnant Women, More Choices Despite Shrinking Resources

How do politicians stay in office? Simple, promise voters that they can have whatever they want. When pregnant women start demanding more birth choices, politicians offer more childbirth choices. What happens when women are promised their birth choices, and then the politicians and bureaucrats are unable to deliver?

In the United Kingdom in 2007, top officials promised that by the end of 2009 (two months from now). ALL pregnant women will be given the choice of: hospital birth, birth center birth, or homebirth. Who can argue with giving women choices?

Of course, as we all know, resources are getting scarce and money to pay for these choices might decrease as the economy slides. In the UK, a just-released report shows that only 5% of women are being offered all of the birth choices that the government promised . Remember, there are only two months left to fulfill the promise of 100% of pregnant women being offered all the birth choices.

(Click here to read UK Guardian article).

In the UK, giving women a choice between hospital, birth center, and homebirth is not unusual, as midwives deliver the majority of babies there The government firmly believes that giving women more maternity choices is in the best interest of the government and the people.

So how does this relate to the United States? I don't believe anyone would say that women should not have choices in maternity care. However, just like in the UK, saying it and offering it are two different things. With hospitals closing labor and delivery units, and obstetricians and midwives leaving practice , we must question if it is feasible to offer women more choices, while the number of providers shrinks?

The midwife advocates will say that the answer is more midwives. If midwives are in fact the answer, then we must ask the question: “For every obstetrician that stops delivering babies, how many hospital midwives will it take to replace the OB? How many birth center midwives will take to replace the OB? How many homebirth midwives will take to replace the OB?”

With two months to go ,the United Kingdom is falling short by 95% of its goal. What is the goal of the US, and what are our chances of achieving that goal?


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