Wall Street Journal on Midwives

Hey Gals — We made the Wall Street Journal! Mainstream American press acknowledges what Europe’s health care system practiced all along! Midwives are best for supporting and encouraging the normal.

See today’s Wall Street Journal article “Healthier Births and Babies – With Midwives”.

Of course, we could also discuss why the Wall Street Journal publishes this information when a man writes a book about it, without having publicized the same information as previous published by women. However, this essay is not about gender discrimination.

According to Nathanael Johnson, author of soon-to-be-published by Rodale Books, All Natural: A Skeptic’s Quest to Discover If the Natural Approach to Diet, Childbirth, Healing, and the Environment Really Keeps Us Healthier and Happier, “Something has gone wrong with the way that we handle birth in this country, deliveries are now getting more dangerous rather than less so… Globally, we are tied with Belarus in maternal mortality.”

Johnson’s article also states, “The great strength of American-style obstetrics is in reacting to catastrophe. But we’re terrible at preventing catastrophes before they happen. While our traditional obstetric mode is reactive, the style of midwifery demonstrated by the Frontier Nursing Service is proactive. A low-tech, high-touch approach has been shown to effectively lower rates of C-sections and early births in several modern cases. Moreover, this personal, coaching approach is the most effective way to address chronic problems like obesity and diabetes.”

Let us laud mainstream acknowledgement of balanced evaluation, otherwise known as “evidence based practice”, to support normal healthy human reproduction, encourage health promotion, avoid unnecessary intervention, and accept appropriate life-saving interventions.

While the midwife au-natural birth community celebrates mainstream acknowledgement, I must add that safe midwifery practice requires a respectful professional relationship with obstetricians for inevitable transfers of care, such as are designed within safe European midwifery models.

Thank you, Nathanael Johnson, for addressing this topic and bringing it (again) to public discussion.

For those in the Bay Area – Nathanael Johnson will speak at Book Passage Bookstore’s Ferry Building location, San Francisco on January 31st. You can make a reservation which includes an autographed copy of his book by clicking here ($35 in advance or $40 at the door).

5 thoughts on “Wall Street Journal on Midwives

  1. Stephanie

    Thanks for the link to this article Gina. Preaching to the choir in my case, but St. John crying in the wilderness at the Wall St. Journal, judging from most of the comments. I am really grateful to the midwives who quietly persevere in providing their services in such a hostile environment. Bless you all!

  2. ComingToLifeStories Post author

    Thank you, Stephanie, for your kind words.

    Because of your comment, I read the impassioned comments on the WSJ article. They make valid points. At my work, I/We also see obstetrical nightmares brought to us by women who should have risked out of a home birth, or unhealthy women who did not care of their medical issues during pregnancy.

    Effective health / medical care (and other aspects of life) require personal responsibility and a respectful integrated professional team. Finger-pointing extremists don’t serve anyone.

    One WSJ comment referenced damage inflicted upon our profession by malpractice suits, referring to former vice presidential candidate John Edwards’ profitable career as a malpractice prosecutor. He extracted enormous settlements which so raised the cost of malpractice insurance for physicians in his state that some were forced out of business.
    This is another disturbing aspect of America’s medical system. Sigh.
    Edwards’ malpractice suits leave bitter taste

    1. Stephanie

      Hi Gina,

      I do agree that this is not a case of back and white. Really, very little of importance in life is, for grown ups. Certainly John Edwards and all the issues surrounding his personal and professional life call for a nuanced approach, more than he seems to have afforded some of the people he litigated. The whole malpractice thing is such an awful, ugly can of worms in this country, but who can deny the necessity of it when people are harmed by medical (and other) professionals. Still, I have seen here in Oregon cases of babies born at home (or transported to hospital in distress) whose parents choose not to go down that road of blame after they die. It has moved me deeply to watch as their ( admittedly “alternative”) community surrounds them with love, support and ritual to help the bereaved parents come to terms with their loss. Such people have taken responsibility for their decisions and choices surrounding pregnancy and birth and I find that admirable. Am also reminded of Ina May and the time she lost a breech baby. The parents knew that she had tried her hardest and done her best to help their baby into the world and accepted with dignity the tragic result. My first child was breech, discovered only after the water broke, but we decided to stay at home when an old doctor offered to come and help our very responsible CNM, who wasn’t allowed for insurance reasons to do such a delivery. It (the birth) worked out well for us, though the baby had to go to the hospital with issues attributed to a chromosome abnormality, only diagnosed 6 weeks later. Life is messy and uncertain and there are no guaranteed outcomes to many of our most important decisions.

      It saddens me that our medical system has become so very dehumanized and I deplore the supremacy of technology over healing touch that has proliferated in my lifetime, while still being grateful for all that technology has to offer in response to catastrophe.


      1. Martha Goudey

        When I read the Johnson’s comment, “Something has gone wrong with the way that we handle birth in this country, deliveries are now getting more dangerous rather than less so… Globally, we are tied with Belarus in maternal mortality.”
        With all due respect, sir, didn’t we all know this 30 years ago? That’s what we’ve been trying to tell you. Hellooo.
        I find it astounding and heart breaking. And yet…we continue.
        And yes, thank you Mr. Johnson for once again bringing it up.
        Love Stephanie’s comment, “Life is messy and uncertain and there are no guaranteed outcomes to many of our most important decisions.”

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