What We are About
90% of the babies born each year world wide are born at home. Among industrialized countries the lowest infant mortality rates occur in those where home birth with midwives is the norm. Yet in the United States the number of planned home deliveries is around 2%. Midwives are still prosecuted and jailed for practicing this ancient craft.
When this country was first settled all babies were born at home, most with midwives. In the early 1800's medical doctors campaigned to ruin the reputations of midwives. They were portrayed as dirty, illiterate, and ignorant, and women were convinced that the safest place to deliver their babies was in the hospital or at least at home with a doctor. Yet, in the mid-1800s, women giving birth in hospitals faced a 5 to 25 percent mortality rate from infections because their male doctors typically started their day performing autopsies in morgues then went straight to birthing rooms without washing their hands. Regardless of these problems, medicine gained legitimacy and power. Toward the end of the nineteenth century the medical establishment called for the abolition of midwifery and home birth, a goal that was almost accomplished. Homebirth continued to decline, only those too poor or too far from doctors delivered at home. In 1900, midwives still attended almost half of all births; by 1935, the number had decreased to 12.5%.
Birth evolved from a physiological event into a medical procedure. Following the opinion of Dr. Joseph DeLee, a respected authority of the day, birth was "a dangerous process from which few women escaped unscathed, and proper management of this pathological condition required a program of routine medical intervention." Women routinely received enemas, anesthesia, episiotomy, and forceps deliveries. Arm restraints controlled combative women coming out of twilight sleep, and stirrups with straps became necessary to hold the semi to unconscious woman's legs up and apart. Pitocin was given to speed up labor, and the drugged baby needed to be resuscitated after being pulled out (Leavitt, 1986). This became the standard of care and by 1970 99% of women delivered in a hospital.
In time women began to rebel against the medical event that birth had become. They no longer wanted to give up their rights and dignity and began to ask the medical establishment to be accountable for the damage caused by overmedicated, violent births. Midwives made a comeback within the medical world as Certified Nurse Midwives. Desperate hospitals solicited pregnant women with wallpaper and rocking chairs in the rooms and promises of a more 'natural' birth experience. The advent of the epidural anesthesia allowed women to be awake (gasp!) for their births. Sometimes they were allowed to keep their babies and breastfeeding was encouraged. Yet for many women it just wasn't enough.
Perhaps you are reading this because the hospital experience of the 21st century is still not enough for you. Perhaps you feel like you can bring forth your babies using your own inner and outer strength. Perhaps you are not willing to be directed and controlled, forced to follow some protocol other than your own that was put in place to serve hospital policy. Or maybe you want to have a say about how often or in what manner someone handles your genitalia. Maybe you object to rough handling of your baby and unnecessary separation after the birth. Maybe it is simply that you want to experience your birth fully, with privacy and grace in the familiar embrace of your own home.
If this is how you feel you are not alone. Some of us have had babies at home, some plan to, others are just looking or want to support the principles involved. The purpose of this group is to create a space in our community where like minded people can meet. Unassisted birthers and those who employ midwives are equally welcome here as it is the woman's right to choose where and with whom she delivers that is the heart of our belief.
The possibilities for this group are as unlimited as the ideas of the people involved. There are the online forums where members can discuss any issues related to pregnancy, birth or parenting. We can get together to share our experiences, our birth stories, learn about something new or just socialize. Meetings can be any day or time and in any location.
This is your forum for meeting up, I encourage you to take an active roll. I will set regular times to meet but any of you who want to host a meeting or event just send me the info and I will post it.
The only rule is that loving kindness be applied in all situations. We celebrate our diversity and do not criticize those with whom we disagree. The meetings and lists are not to be used a medium for religious or ethical ideals. Loving kindness should always prevail. That said I can't wait to get to know you and have some fun.
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|About The Atlanta Homebirth Meetup Group||July 30, 2006 10:55 AM||Beth M.|