Elaine Welteroth: Using Midwifery Care Was My Best Decision


J.As I sat down to write this, a woman died while giving birth in a hospital in Los Angeles. She is in the city where I also live and she gave birth 9 months ago. Her name is April Valentine. She was a black woman like me. I don’t know much about her, but she doesn’t need to know the details of her story to know she could have been me.

When I learned the severity of the black maternal mortality crisis in this country, I was already very pregnant and faced with the fear of being another statistic, I found a doctor who could reassure me. I was looking for

Like most American women, I wanted a hospital birth, just like my mother did. It was the default, so there weren’t that many options. Almost everything I knew about childbirth was programmed by Hollywood’s fanatical portrayals. Apparently, so does the trauma of childbirth. Unlike most obstetricians, midwives are trained to focus on the whole person, recognizing that a healthy pregnancy includes both physical and mental health. , a licensed and board-certified medical practitioner, is an expert in low-risk pregnancies, the majority of pregnancies in the United States. is essential to your health and is at the core of why I’m sharing…my story.

While global maternal mortality rates are declining in other developed countries, the U.S. maternal mortality rate has increased by 30% over the past 15 years and remains the highest among high-income countries. I was shocked to find out. This disproportionately affects black families and mothers who are three times more likely to die than her. Unfortunately, data show that the U.S. midwifery workforce lags far behind other wealthy developed countries globally. In the United States, she has only four midwives for every 1,000 births, while many European countries have five to ten times as many midwives as her.

Here’s the part I can’t stand: According to the CDC, 84% of these deaths are preventable. When you hear statistics like that, you feel hopeless or want to change them.

If you think these statistics don’t apply because of your economic or social status, you are making a grave mistake.This crisis is affecting women in every community in the United States.Motherhood Charles Johnson, a care activist and father of two, lost his wife to medical neglect after a C-section. Also I have a mother. This crisis affects everyone in one way or another. “

But it doesn’t have to be. Studies show that including midwives in the health system could prevent her more than 80% of maternal and infant deaths. In places like the UK, midwives deliver more than half of all babies born, and their maternal mortality rate is less than a third of hers in the US. care.

The midwifery model of care offers longer prenatal visits, the option of out-of-hospital delivery, the ability to move freely during labour, and the ability to deliver in the most favorable position for the baby and birth. Most babies give birth on their back (approximately 68%, according to a 2020 study by BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth). This is to take advantage of hospital systems that operate on a for-profit model.

To be honest, even when I woke up to the beauty and logical advantages of the out-of-hospital birth model, I still didn’t consider myself to be the “kind” of mother who would choose the out-of-hospital birth model. There are these stereotypical tropes about women who choose to give birth in. Woo-woo, crystal slang, anti-formula, granola-ma-macart. That’s part of why midwives still seem so outlandish, so unorthodox, and so risky. In the early 1900s, successful smear campaigns against local maternity workers were weaponized when male-supervised obstetrics were introduced and male doctors replaced midwives. These campaigns were designed to achieve political persuasion and legal reform.

This conditioning left a voice in my head that felt safer in a hospital birth with the right doctor. was. It is not because there are no skilled and caring doctors. Because you work within a for-profit system set up to protect your interests, your time and your money. Hospital systems are designed to serve as many people as possible as quickly as possible. Even if doctors want to, they are often unable to give the most vulnerable conditions the time, care, and personalized attention they need.

My first doctor barely made eye contact with me when I was two months pregnant.After 6 vials of my blood Accidentally After being pulled from my arm without apology (pure negligence), another doctor kicked me out of the exam room after 15 minutes for exceeding “a maximum of 2 question visits”. I have gone from doctor to doctor more times than I can count and have been disappointed, disappointed and in tears. I could not do it.

But whether my birth plan was ready or not, this baby was coming and the journalist inside me refused to give up. am. So I decided to educate myself and my community in real time by interviewing midwives like midwife maverick Jenny Joseph, one of Time magazine’s Women of the Year. Maternity. Exploring all my options in the support space unlocked a sense of empowerment. Defending myself means defending my baby, and other mothers are equally at a loss.

After much deliberation, at 36 weeks pregnant, I decided with the utmost confidence to pursue a home birth under the care of a black midwife at Kindred Space LA. Kindred Space LA is the only black woman-owned birthing center in Los Angeles. As I spent hours at my bedside during my prenatal appointment, drinking tea in Kindred’s garden, Kimberly Durdin, my midwife and co-owner of the space, threw me into a 9-pound safe. I developed a sense of self-confidence that led to divine birth. baby boy. Committing to midwifery care was the best decision I ever made. When I was at my most vulnerable, midwives took care of not only my body, but my spirit, mind, and family.

I just want to make it clear that I have absolutely no interest in perpetuating mommy wars of any kind.For God’s sake, what should I do? I am a mother who gave birth at home and started combo feeding my baby on the second day of life with formula. And that’s the point. Neither do we. It’s time to remove the tropes and the stigma so more birthers can stay alive to raise the babies we brought into this world.

Committing to midwifery care was life-changing for me. This same option should be readily available to all births, whether they deliver at home, in a birthing center, or in a hospital. And that’s exactly what this movement is fighting for.

We believe that by reframing this issue through the lens of hope, possibility and cooperation, we can improve outcomes. That’s why I’m telling my story. I hope it serves as a reminder that the journey of motherhood is not a monolith and that self-advocacy is a big piece in this problem-solving puzzle. Nothing will change if we don’t change the world and fight to increase access to information and resources that make alternatives more accessible.

Dealing with large system failures requires a multifaceted approach. Legislative changes, greater equity in access to community maternity workers both at home and in hospitals (including insurance companies supporting alternative maternity options), more resources for grassroots organizations, And many more companies will put resources behind this issue in the parenting space.

We cannot advocate for women without advocating for their right to a safe birth experience. Especially at a time when some Americans are losing the ability to judge when they become parents. The same systems that force people to become parents must take responsibility for keeping people alive.

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