Well, the Airlie Center is certainly beautiful in bright October morning light. I took a “fat tire” bike tour of the grounds early today–really lovely.
Day One is over, and there was remarkably little conflict. I had a nice conversation with Dr. Richard Waldman (the immediate past president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists–ACOG) this morning. I had some preconceived notion of what the former head of ACOG would say about home birth, given that that organization had routinely condemned the practice as unsafe in the past, and only recently softened its stance somewhat. But he talked about setting up one of the first hospital-based birthing centers in his part of New York–water birthing, no electrical fetal monitoring and such–in 1981 with his wife, a certified nurse midwife. His goal is to make birth safer for all women and babies, regardless of place of delivery. So much for my internal stereotyping–bad doctor!
We spent several hours today examining the last 100 years of global events that had shaped both home birth in and our attitudes toward it . This was followed by a very extensive “mind mapping” of recent trends in home birth in the U.S. and overseas. Tomorrow will be focused on the present, finding connections among key trends and learning what people are doing today. Saturday’s session will involve future planning.
The issue of home birth safety, which wasn’t much discussed today, will receive either a boost or a body slam in early November, when the Birthplace in England study is scheduled to be released. It’s a massive undertaking that should give a fairly accurate picture of childbirth practices in England. There are five studies in all–of particular interest is this one:
“Study 3: The Birthplace national prospective cohort study: perinatal and maternal outcomes by planned place of birth”
This should answer (at least for England) whether home birth poses an increased risk to mothers and babies. I’ll report on that when the study is released.
Now, off to bed.