Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Improving Conditions for Women Who Want to Birth at Home

by Melissa Garvey, ACNM Writer and Editor

Those of you who are tuned into ACNM on Facebook know that we promised to announce some exciting news this month about efforts to improve conditions for women who want to give birth at home. While ACNM supports a woman’s right to choose home birth, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists remains opposed to home birth. So many stakeholders are polarized on the issue of home birth that many women who plan to birth at home and need to transfer to the hospital due to complications do not receive the respect and care they deserve. Some women even resort to birthing at home against medical advice and without the presence of their health care provider.

Women aren’t going to stop giving birth at home anytime soon. In fact, recent CDC statistics show that after a gradual decline from 1990 to 2004, the percentage of home births increased by 5% to 0.59% in 2005 and remained steady in 2006. So, what can we do to improve conditions for these women and their babies in spite of the controversial debate that continues among health care professionals, consumers, insurance providers, policymakers, and researchers?

ACNM is pleased to announce that the Transforming Birth Fund (TBF) has awarded grant funding toward convening a Home Birth Consensus Summit in 2011. Saraswathi Vedam, chair of the ACNM Home Birth Section, took a leading role in bringing this to fruition. She worked with an impressive list of co-applicants for the grant, including:

  • Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA)
  • American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)
  • American Pediatric Association (APA)
  • National Association of Certified Professional Midwives (NACPM)
  • International Center for Traditional Childbearing (ICTC)
  • Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN)
  • Lamaze
  • American Association of Birth Centers (AABC)
The Home Birth Summit will be a two- to three-day meeting facilitated by the Future Search Network, a nonprofit organization that is internationally known for brokering lasting agreements and shared initiatives in highly volatile and polarized settings.

Additional funding will be needed to cover the full budget for the summit. While planning for the summit is well underway, individuals or organizations interested in supporting the summit are encouraged to do so through contributions to the A.C.N.M. Foundation, Inc., fiscal agent for the TBF grant.

To read more about Vedam’s leadership and the three-year history leading to this exciting news, read the full ACNM announcement.

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