How could so many people in one country be duped and deceived? Do not underestimate the power of the strategic propaganda and fear-mongering being done by the enshrined medical industry, which has been spearheaded by the financial trade organizations like the AMA or ACOG. Midwives however, are not alone when it comes to attacks from the conventional medical industry. All alternative healthcare practitioners in the USA (and other countries for that matter), are routinely attacked with propaganda, frivolous lawsuits, and abuse of the legal complaint system. Consumer Activist Tim Bolen (http://www.quackpotwatch.org) explains that this is an organized scam of whom the primary players are the board, management, and staff of the FSMB (Federation of States Medical Boards).
Of course, we must acknowledge that there are a few medical doctors out there that are not part of this. Some physicians openly support homebirth midwives, and they are furious that their own professional organizations would not only try to dictate what women should do, but also how they themselves should practice. Additionally, some medical doctors have actually changed to integrate alternative medicine, or have even started practicing a natural form of healthcare. But these are a rare breed, and are frequently persecuted and maligned by the enshrined conventional medical industry, and are almost never allowed to practice maternity care in a hospital.
Understandably, most consumers are genuinely surprised to realize that for mainstream medical doctors the practice of medicine (especially obstetrics) is actually more like a 'religion' than a science. Shockingly, the practice of obstetrics, which is really a combination of philosophy, business, and religion, does not have true science as its base. With physician attended hospital births, we see how pregnant women are tested, medicated, and operated on to excess every day by the obstetrical profession in an unethical and harmful way. As a result, US hospitals produce more premature infants than any other country with an obstetrical interventionist technology, and then they praise themselves for 'saving' some of their lives. Many medical doctors are aware of this perplexing dilemma, but are afraid to speak out for change. For instance, any medical practitioner who strays from the medical model of 'faith' is typically vehemently hated as if he/she were a heretic, and subsequently ostracized from the mainstream medical community. Dr. Marsden Wagner refers to this as "tribal obstetrics" in his book "Born in the USA".
But again, is it really the fault of the individual medical doctor who sincerely wants to help people? Like all of us, after spending many years of schooling to learn a chosen profession, medical doctors expect to make an honest living, practicing what they were trained to do. However, if they are threatened with losing hospital privileges, verses not following the status quo, or not entering into any given form of integrative, alternative, or natural healthcare should they so desire, then they are stuck with a moral and ethical dilemma, and with making a decision that they must live with thereafter. Either way, sincere medical doctors are typically backed in a corner, and often see no alternative but to practice defensively.
Practicing Defensive Medicine
Medical doctors practicing maternity care, especially obstetricians, often believe they are forced to practice 'defensive medicine' because they are constantly under the threat of malpractice lawsuits for not doing 'everything possible' to prevent a negative outcome, and paying huge amounts of malpractice insurance as a result. And, when they are sued, the 'expert' testimonies come from other obstetricians who must either likewise conform to the medical model for their own economic survival, or worse, they are the true fear-based medical advocates who actually believe that a cesarean section is ultimately the only 'safe' way to deliver a baby.
On the other hand, as consumers we do expect our chosen healthcare practitioner to be benevolent, putting the interests of mother and baby ahead of their own, and rightly so. And yet, we continually see fear of litigation on the forefront of every obstetricians mind. Why is this?
It is primarily because when a patient comes to a medical doctor with a problem, typically they expect their medical doctor to decide what course of action needs to be taken (pregnancy is treated as a medical 'problem' by mainstream medical doctors). Likewise, mainstream medical doctors are trained to make decisions for patients, rather than with patients. After all, why would a medical doctor want to rely on the opinion of someone who doesn't have a medical degree?
We are likewise trained to think this is the way it should be. For example, the current cultural trend in the United States is for women to check themselves into hospitals in labor with the mentality that they are going to receive a series of safe technologically and scientifically based management services from medical doctors or medical midwives and nurses which will result in the following:
- Pain alleviation
- Information about their body's and their baby's progress during labor
- Delivery of a 'perfect baby'
If the consumer is not happy with the end result of the services that they feel the hospital was responsible for providing them, they might demand reparations as consumers do when they are not content with a product or a service. Knowing this, hospitals now create a paper trail and preemptively counter the unrealistic expectation that their medical training and expensive technology will guarantee a safe birth experience for mother and baby by over managing pregnancy and labor, unnecessary tests and drugs, induction drugs of unproven safety, and frequently the cesarean section.
So many consumers think that 'if we let the medical doctor choose what's best for us, it frees us of any 'responsibility' (at least from a linear perspective).' If things go wrong ... we can and will sue them! No wonder our own insurance premiums and the medical doctors' medical malpractice costs are through the roof. Not to mention the position this puts the medical doctor in. Many of them believe that they are financially forced to make decisions based more on litigation than the actual need of the patient, practicing what is called 'defensive medicine.' These decisions, of course, include all of the unnecessary testing, induction, and intervention we see today.
But this is not the way it should be. All healthcare practitioners have an legal and ethical obligation to educate their patients with complete and true informed consent. In an ideal world for maternity care, this would include offering childbirth education classes that educate the family on all aspects of the birthing process, and thus fully preparing them to be responsible for their own healthcare choices (not simply following hospital rules). In this case, if a patient has weighed their options and chooses an option that is not offered by her provider, it is that providers legal and ethical obligation to refer that patient to a provider who can best meet those needs.
Unfortunately, in the industry of medicalized hospital childbirth, this will likely never happen. Nonetheless, if the 98% majority of healthy families actually decided to stop hiring mainstream medical doctors for low risk maternity care, and only hired non-medical midwives instead, this problem would no doubt solve itself over time, and the United States would certainly move up the list for positive outcomes in maternity care.
"It is estimated that if the U.S. switched to a midwife-based system for childbirth, the country would save $8.5 billion a year." - Marsden Wagner, M.D.