Lately I've noticed articles about childbirth popping up in mainstream news websites. What's surprising about these articles is not so much them covering birth per say, but they way they're doing it-- bringing attention to the ever-rising c-section rate (and that it might not necessarily be a good thing), treating home birth as a viable option and exploring the risks and benefits in a fairly unbiased manner.
This is exciting. It's nice to see someone like TIME asking the questions many of us feel like outsiders for trying to bring up. ; )
Too Many C-sections: Docs Re-Think Induced Labor (TIME)
High c-section rate may have something to do with impatience (LA Times)
Should American Women Learn to Give Birth at Home? (TIME) (BTW, I kind of hate that title. I feel it's misleading to what the article itself is about. But, the article is good, so am linking it regardless)
The thing is, it's not that hospitals, doctors, or nurses are evil, or that c-sections, inductions, or epidurals are bad (we've been very grateful for hospitals and good doctors and nurses when we've had to take D in for an illness, and been satisfied with the care we got). But a look at our ever-rising national c-section rate* (32.3% of all births as of 2008, up from 5.5% in 1970), and the fact that our infant and maternal mortality rates are among the highest of any developed nation (and in some cases are actually rising instead of falling) should be a wake-up call that something is not right with the way we currently handle birth.
Personally, I think all these numbers would look much better if we could find ways to provide all women with a safe and comfortable environment for giving birth (whether that's in a hospital, birthing center, or at home; with an epidural, other pain medication, or none; on dry land or in water; etc) and limit interventions to when they are truly medically necessary (as opposed to turning to them for convenience, or fear of litigation). But that's just me. ; )
* If you're curious, The Unnecesarean has compiled stats and numbers for the c-section rates of 16 different states within the US (broken down by hospitals within each state), along with comparisons of the rates of other countries around the world. The numbers are quite interesting.