Monday, August 14, 2006

Who is an expert in normal birth?

What does it mean when homebirth advocates say midwives are experts in normal birth and obstetricians are experts in abnormal birth?

I understand what it means for an obstetrician to be an expert in the complications of birth. Obstetricians can recognize and treat complications, and have the experience and training to be better at it than anyone else.

Why should anyone think that obstetricians are not experts in normal birth as well? Leave aside for the moment the fact that most obstetricians do more unmedicated spontaneous vaginal deliveries than most midwives do. Consider the following:

If an obstetrician were at home with a laboring women, what would be the result of their supposed lack of expertise? Would the baby fail to come out? Would the baby be injured during the birth? Would the baby be at greater risk of death or serious illness because an obstetrician was the attendant at a homebirth? As we all know, the answers are no, no and no.

So does it make any sense at all to claim that midwives are more expert at normal birth? I don't think so.

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