Posts Tagged ‘Ina may gaskin’

Anyone who has ever worked in the Childbirth Education field (and hopefully midwifery, obstetrics etc) will have heard of The Farm midwives.

Based in Tennessee in the US The Farm has the lowest Caesarean rates of any birth facility in the US, and the best maternal and neonatal outcomes too.  Women come from all over America and the world to give birth at The Farm.   And the founder of The Farm is Ina May Gaskin – well known around the world for her inspirational book Spiritual Midwifery.

At The Farm the statistics are truly fantastic.  A Caesarean rate of 1.4%, a homebirth rate of 95% and almost 2/3 of women giving birth keep their perineum in tact.  Compare that with the statistics here, even, of 24% Caesarean rates and 2% homebirth rates and questions start popping up.  Mainly…. why?

Are these American women just better at giving birth than women in the UK?  Ridiculous.  Well, maybe the women birthing at The Farm are merely a self-selecting group who would have had the same experience anywhere.  Well, hang on.  Ina has been a midwife to more than 20 sets of twins, hundreds of ‘grand-multips’ (women birthing their fifth or more baby) and more than 90 breech babies (including footling breech).  Even comparing with birth centre statistics where the women are selected as ‘low risk’ The Farm statistics cannot be matched anywhere in the developed world.

The question remains.  If it is safe and achievable to have a 1.4% caesarean rate and a 95% homebirth rate then why do we have a 24% caesarean rate and a 2% homebirth rate?  Is it ignorance of the health professionals and society as a whole? So education is the key.  Our health professionals need to know that for the vast vast majority of women a normal vaginal birth is not only possible, but preferable.

If, however, it is not a case of ignorance – after all this information is freely availably and widely discussed – then what is it?  Is something more sinister at work?  If our caesarean rates plumetted to 1.4% and our homebirth rate shot up to over 95% then what would happen?  It would be cheaper that is for sure.  Cheaper because a lot of highly trained staff and expensively-equipped and managed ‘delivery units’ would be no longer necessary.  Many of the people who we would need to believe in normal birth and facilitate the changes required to improve birth for all women would be, in effect, making themselves redundant.

If it is neither of these reasons then I have yet to come up with a satisfactory third reason that over a third of British women are unable to birth their babies without having them cut or pulled out.  I would be interested to hear what other reasons there could be for the shocking statistics we see today.

Read a recent interview with Ina May Gaskin in The Guardian, from which many of the above statistics were taken – along with The Farm website.


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