Wednesday, November 10, 2004

In and out of Mainstream

It was refreshing to see “doula” used without a definition – and in a New York Daily News story of all places. It was not refreshing to see the story was about a 56-year-old woman giving birth to twins. I am all for women having babies at later ages than used to be the norm. However, it seems irresponsible to have a baby when you know you’ll be 75 (or dead) when your child graduates from high school.

Still, does the News’ mentioning a doula in passing mean “doula” is making the next step toward mainstream? Instead of each city running its own story explaining what doulas are, they’re now returning to stories with birth at the center, and doulas merely mentioned as part of the birth team.

If doulas are gaining acceptance in the popular culture, it could be that VBACs (vaginal birth after cesarian) are not. A hospital in Frederick, Maryland has stopped performing VBACs, effective September 2004. Not one or two doctors, mind you, but the entire staff. It’s hospital policy. In 2002 the same hospital banned video-cameras in the delivery room. The lawyer in me wonders what’s happened at that hospital lately in the way of medical malpractice suits. If the doctors don’t want their work videotaped and they aren’t comfortable managing VBAC births, perhaps their skills aren’t up to snuff.

In fairness, it may just be that Frederick Memorial Hospital is our VBAC canary. With payoffs for medical malpractice, and birth injury in particular, increasing, who can blame physicians and hospitals for covering their rears? And those are the doctors who choose to stay in the business despite spiraling insurance rates.

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