Tangled in the Safety Net

One of the blogs most recently added to my blogroll is “Birth Sense,” previously, “The Midwife Next Door,” and I’m glad I’ve found it. In a recent post, she details a birth story, illustrating that the “safety net” of a hospital may not always function like it should.

In most hospitals today, you will see a central monitoring station with nurses clustered around it, eyes fixated on the monitor screen.  Rather than spending this time in one-to-one assessment of their patient, observing the whole picture of how things are going, they focus on one element of the labor–the fetal heart rate.  Where is the physician?  At the office, or elsewhere, while the nurse is expected to monitor and identify problems with the labor and notify the physician if problems arise.

This is one common misunderstanding regarding home vs. hospital birth.  Many women feel safer in the hospital because they have emergency services immediately available.  But if you have an emergency and your physician is not at your bedside, who is going to perform emergency surgery?  The nurse? The anesthesiologist?  No, you will have to wait until your physician is summoned and arrives at the hospital, assesses you, and makes the decision to perform a c-section…..

I paged the chief again.  I called my supervisor again.  No other doctors were  on the floor, or I would have begged one of them to help.  No one was answering my calls.  I finally called Brianna’s physician again and told her that I had notified the OB chief  and the nursing supervisor that she was refusing to come in.  Very angry now, she hung up on me.  A few minutes later she walked into Brianna’s labor room.  I still had not heard back from the OB chief, and the nursing supervisor was also trying to reach him….

Click here to read the rest of the story.


6 Responses

  1. The link isn’t working. It’s going to a weird page

  2. Thanks for the link, its been added to my reading list! (the snow on your page is making me think I’m getting a migraine!)

  3. I’ve really been enjoying her writing – though it’s scary and depressing! It’s so true what you say about monitoring – homebirth monitoring is so much better. In hospital, it’s just a machine and an occasional nurse check. At home, it’s constant gentle observation by the midwife. No contest. And when there are problems, which are almost always non-emergency due to the lack of harmful interventions, we just go to the hospital – it’s just as fast as if we were in-hospital.

    • When we had a true emergency at home the time between when the emergency was spotted to when baby was out, transfered to hospital (via 911 call and ambulance) and intubated in the ER was less than the recommended 30 minutes from decision to insecion for an emergency c-section (about 17 minutes all told). My husband and I have no doubt that, even in this life threatening situation, we were still better off at home with a midwife team trained to deal with it and focused entirely upon my baby (instead of there for five minutes inbetween focusing on other patients). (although I understand in life threatening situations this is not always or even mostly the case and a hospital is the safest place for emergencies and most complications)

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