Rising Insurance Costs Cause Descreased Birth Options for Women

Michelle’s Note (2.10.11): I found this old post of mine in an online archive, so I’m publishing it again for your perusal:

Women in Southern Oregon who have had a cesarean section birth may no longer have the option for a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC), according to the Statesman Journal in Salem Oregon.
Hospitals across the country, fearing expensive malpractice suits, have stopped offering VBACs. According to a certified nurse midwife in Oklahoma, only one hospital in the state offers VBACs. Oklahoma midwives who deliver babies in free-standing birthing centers or at home, do not attend VBAC births.

The one Oklahoma hospital that does allow VBACs, OU Medical Center, requires the laboring woman to have a heparin lock, a IV needle that is taped to the patient’s hand in preparation for an IV, if necessary. In my experience, the heplock was uncomfortable, though I was able to have the nurses compromise and put the needle in the back of my arm, instead of my hand.

Midwives, who are more open to alternate birthing methods, including natural childbirth, are also being forced out of practice:

The demand for midwifery care has more than tripled in the last decade, but rising insurance costs have made it difficult for midwives to stay in business. Midwives spend more time getting to know patients throughout their pregnancy and are less likely to intervene by inducing labor or performing Caesarean sections. For those reasons, many women favor midwifery care. But midwives earn substantially less than obstetricians and hospitals and independent midwives alike are finding it hard to shoulder skyrocketing malpractice premiums.

So, what does this mean for mothers? To begin with, I think that too many cesarean sections are performed needlessly. And too many mothers are told that they can’t give birth without one.

I had a cesarean delivery with my first child. I was was told that I was too small to have babies naturally and was diagnosed with cephalopelvic disproportion. CPD is a condition in which a woman’s pelvis is too small to have a baby, however, according to NaturalChildbirth.org:

Of these women, 65 percent–almost two thirds–went on to have normal births; many of the babies were much larger than the baby for which the original cesarean section had been performed.
-ICAN Clarion, Sept. 1997

Count me in that 65 percent. My daughter, born three years later, weighed a full pound more than her brother, and was born by VBAC. She was able to breastfeed within 30 minutes of her birth, was more alert as a newborn than her brother and I recovered much faster and with less pain. My bloodloss was also significantly less in the VBAC than with the cesarean.

Despite the evidence that VBACs are safer than repeat cesareans, some obstetricians are still recommending them to unsuspecting mothers.

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