Thursday, February 3, 2011

ACOG Committee Opinion on Planned Home Birth: Opening the Door to Collaborative Care

by Melissa Garvey, ACNM Communications Manager

Just this morning, ACNM released an Issue Brief in response to the ACOG Committee Opinion on Planned Home Birth published in the February 2011 issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

At just over two pages, the Issue Brief is worth the read. While acknowledging that much of the ACOG Committee Opinion relies on a widely-criticized, flawed 2010 meta-analysis, the Issue Brief goes on to highlight parts of the opinion that open the door to supporting childbirth choices through collaborative care for women and infants. Specifically, this new Committee Opinion acknowledges a woman’s right to make informed decisions about where to give birth, in contrast to ACOG’s sharply worded 2007 policy statement, which declared that “ACOG does not support programs or individuals that advocate for or who provide home births.”

This excerpted quote by ACNM President Holly Powell Kennedy summarizes the tone of the brief:
ACNM views the 2011 ACOG Committee Opinion as a crack in ACOG’s long-standing negative stance on home birth. “We can focus on the negative aspects of this committee opinion, or we can seize this opportunity to redefine the discussion,” said Kennedy. “Beliefs and values about how to accomplish those outcomes are culturally steeped, experientially-based, and stem partially from professional training and socialization. Moving to a place of mutual understanding and agreement will require that we all use midwifery skills: patience with process, respect, listening, knowledge, presence, and strong leadership. ACNM is committed to working collegially with all health professionals involved in maternity care to clarify, define, and advocate for the best care practices for women in all birth settings.”
Also of note, ACOG’s new Committee Opinion comes on the heels of ACNM’s announcement that the Transforming Birth Fund (TBF) has awarded funding to a consortium of maternity organizations to convene a multi-disciplinary Home Birth Consensus Summit in late 2011. This forum represents a real chance to inform and influence change in home birth policy and practice.