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New ROOTS, Beyond Medicalization: Midwives and Maternity Care in America

Introducing the Jewish Healthcare Foundation's new ROOTS publication, Beyond Medicalization: Midwives and Maternity Care in America.

Under the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world is rapidly moving into a new era of healthcare delivery. Across the country, maternal healthcare policies are changing daily in order to ensure birthing families have access to safe care. Hospitals are making rapid decisions about whether birthing in the hospital is the right decision for healthy families during a pandemic. They are building auxiliary units and calling on birth centers and midwives to help them create alternative safe spaces.

We use this time of uncertainty and disruption to consider what, under ideal conditions and normal circumstances, represents the safest, most satisfying and natural environment for women to give birth. We try to answer the ultimate question: if women were to design the perfect childbirth experience, for themselves and their partners and infant, from preconception to successful family bonding, would it look like what we have today? If we cannot say "yes", then let's begin the conversation. And, the timing is right.

The World Health Organization has declared 2020 the Year of the Nurse and Midwife. In honor of the timeless profession of midwifery, we sought to examine America's approach to pregnancy and delivery over the past century. The report explores the decline of midwifery and the shift to possibly "over-medicalized" childbirth, where important techniques for complex deliveries became the norm for everyone. We consider how activists pushed back and achieved numerous successes in making the childbirth experience more satisfying and even safer for women and families. As of today, many champion a new, redesigned and comprehensive model of care. This model of care values the role of the obstetrician and the technological advances made to rescue precarious births, while respecting the appropriate role of midwifery and adding critical prenatal and postnatal services for families.

View the new publication here. 

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