Mar 5, 2009 |
Did You Know,  |
Kellie Moeller, CNM

Non-Hospital Births Growing in Popularity

Houston, TX, is among a growing number of cities that has forgon hospitals to deliver babies in home-like settings, attended by certified nurse-midwives and registered nurses.
Author: Craig Smith
Publisher: TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Date Published: Thursday, March 5, 2009

Ten hours after delivering her third son, Rebecca Sanchez relaxed with him in a double bed at The Midwife Center for Birth & Women's Health in Pittsburgh, waiting for her husband to take them home.

Sanchez, of Murrysville, is among a growing number of women who forgo hospitals to deliver babies in home-like settings, attended by certified nurse-midwives and registered nurses.

Her son, whom she hadn't named, was born at 12:06 a.m. Wednesday, the 500th baby born at The Midwife Center in the Strip District. The center, which opened in 2006 on Penn Avenue, is the only licensed free-standing birthing unit in Pennsylvania west of Reading, officials said.

Certified nurse midwives, or CNMs, are registered nurses with advanced education in women's health. They are licensed in all 50 states.

Once considered risky, deliveries by nurse-midwives are increasing across the country as parents look to control health care costs or experience home-like births. The cost is about half that of a hospital delivery, officials at The Midwife Center said.

About 11,000 nurse midwives in the United States delivered more than 317,000 babies in 2006, a 33 percent increase over 1996, according to the American College of Nurse-Midwives. During 2006, there were 4.3 million births in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"People are saying having a baby doesn't necessarily need to be a medical event," said Nancy Niemczyk, The Midwife Center's clinical director and a certified nurse midwife.

Sanchez gave birth to her first son, John, 4, in an Idaho hospital, but delivered Michael, 3, at their home there.

"I like the home environment," Sanchez said.

Her husband said the birth of their second son persuaded them to seek out a midwife when they moved here.

"This is what we wanted," said Matthew Sanchez, 28, who works for an environmental consulting firm in Monroeville.

In 2007, the state expanded the role of Pennsylvania's 317 CNMs by allowing them to dispense medication. Until then, this was the only state that didn't give nurse-midwives authority to write prescriptions, causing delays in patient care, according to state Rep. Ronald Waters, D-Philadelphia, who wrote legislation enabling the change.

Some states might expand the scope of such practices further, allowing midwives to attend home births to help cut health care costs.

Nationally, a group called the Big Push for Midwives has urged President Obama to ensure that midwives specializing in home births are included in deliberations on federal health care reforms.

The American Medical Association and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists oppose the effort.

"Childbirth decisions should not be dictated or influenced by what's fashionable, trendy or the latest cause celebre," the obstetricians' policy statement said.

A seemingly normal delivery can quickly become life-threatening for mother and baby, the group said.

Allegheny County authorities charged Judith Wilson of Portersville with involuntary manslaughter, child endangerment and practicing midwifery without a license in connection with the 2002 delivery of an infant boy who died shortly after his breech birth. The baby was delivered in his Bloomfield home. Her trial is scheduled to continue March 19.

Niemczyk, 42, of the North Side said those cases are rare.

"In 14 years, I've only taken one woman to the hospital in an emergency," she said.

Blog Posted: Mar 5, 2009
Posted by: Kellie Moeller, CNM
President HomeBirth Experience, Inc.
281-309-8030

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