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Historical Statistics about
Midwifery & Physician Attended Births

The following statistics are taken from work done by David Stewart of NAPSAC in defense of midwifery. The facts are quite impressive. This is not a blanket endorsement of every individual midwife, but of midwifery in general. You must take the responsibility to choose your own birth attendant very carefully.

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[These artistic representations of birth and midwifery are from a slide collection by Janet Isaacs Ashford and can be viewed with commentary by clicking on the image.] From 1914 to 1930 in a study of more than 600,000 births in Philadelphia, the maternal mortality rate was nine times higher for doctors than for midwives – in spite of the fact that if a doctor and midwife were in attendance together the midwife was always implicated.
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Within 6 years of the time that midwifery was abolished in Massachusetts, the maternal morality rate rose by 19%. It continued to rise until it reached 57% higher than it had been at the time midwifery was abolished.
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Between 1916 and 1921 in Newark NJ, midwives had a recorded maternal mortality rate of 15 per 10,000. The maternal mortality rate for physicians was over four times higher!
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In 1959, in Maderna County California a midwifery program was initiated in 1960. Neonatal mortalities fell from 24 per 1,000 to 10 per 1,000 – less than half the former level and far below that of the rest of the country. When doctors took over in 1963, the neonatal morality rate tripled to 32 per 1000.
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In a British study done between 1970 and 1972, 67% of the preventable deaths were due to doctor related causes, but only 2% were due to midwives errors.
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Analysis of the infant mortalities among the developed countries of the world shows that the countries with the best perinatal outcomes are those with the largest populations of midwives as compared to the worst outcomes in the countries with the highest proportions of physicians.
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From 1977 to 1978 the maternal mortalities for board certified obstetricians actually tripled in one year.
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In a matched population study of 2,092 home and hospital births, the hospital group had six times more fetal distress, three times more maternal hemorrhage, 3.7 times more babies in need of resuscitation, four times higher neonatal infection, lower APGAR scores. The hospital group had 30 permanent birth injured. The home group had no such injuries.
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The push for hospital births came from physicians rather than from their patients. Most American mothers today have never experienced an out of hospital birth. They have no basis for comparison. Reports from England indicate that 86% of mothers who have experienced both choose homebirth, 10% choose hospital and 4% have no preference.






 
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