I stood by with awe as my beautiful bride delivered each of the three Mercian princesses with no drugs of any sort. In each case, she was attended by a nurse-midwife. With our first two, the midwife was a male nurse who spent a significant part of his career as a medical corpsman in the US Air Force. There was no aromatherapy, and my wife was not trying to get in touch with her inner primitive woman. But, she did like being clear-headed enough to tend to the baby immediately, and the fact that she could make it to the loo under her own power.
At no time did we feel like we received a lower standard of care because we chose to use a midwife. In fact, we specifically went to a midwife because we didn’t want a doctor who would walk in at the last minute, slice the baby out (whether you really need a C-section or not) and be back at the golf course for his scheduled tee-time. My wife invested significant study in making the decision and could lecture at length about the problems attendant with having doctors, who are trained to deal with medical emergencies, deal with something that, in the vast majority of cases, is not a medical emergency. Of course doctors don’t like midwives; obstetricians and midwives are in direct competition to provide essentially the same services.
The behavior of the midwives in the story is inexcusable. They should certainly be dealt with, but they are not the systemic problem. Let’s put that blame where it belongs—the NHS and socialized medicine. There are, of course, other midwives with the same condescending attitude, but in a system that allows choice, one simply chooses not to go to such incompetents. My wife and I visited several clinics before deciding where she wanted to deliver our third child. On the way out of one clinic, she commented to me that she would not want to return even to have a scratch bandaged, let alone to give birth. So, we didn’t go back.
People complain about the cost of healthcare in the U.S., but if it means not having to put my child’s life in the hands of whatever government payroll nit-wit happens to be on duty at the time, I’ll pay the extra cost and like it.