Thursday, December 28, 2006

Independent Birth Center Saves DC $800,000 Annually

The only independent birthing center in the District of Columbia saves the city's health care system an estimated $800,000 per year:
The not-for-profit Family Health and Birth Center, housed in a former supermarket and located in a low-income area of the District, provides gynecological and obstetrical services, as well as parenting advice to women and general health services to children, the Post reports. An increasing number of women are giving birth in the center's birthing rooms, while other women give birth at Washington Hospital Center accompanied by one of the center's seven on-staff midwifes, the Post reports. Preliminary data for 2006 indicate that the center might have delivered a "record number" of infants -- more the 153 last year, as well as the highest percentage ever delivered outside the hospital -- the Post reports. Of infants delivered through the center through mid-October, less than 5% were delivered before 37 weeks' gestation, 2% were considered low birthweight and 7% were delivered through c-sections. Citywide rates for those measures are in the double digits, according to the Post. According to an analysis conducted by Lubic based on an estimate in a recent Institute of Medicine report, the center saves $567,000 annually by reducing the number of preterm deliveries. Using the same formula, Lubic calculated that the center saves almost $285,000 in c-section costs.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Inmate Delivers Baby In Jailhouse Elevator

Inmate Delivers Baby In Jailhouse Elevator: Mother, Baby Transferred To Parkland Hospital
A female inmate housed at the George Allen [Dallas, Texas] Jail Infirmary went into labor early Friday morning and delivered her child before paramedics could arrive. At about 5:25 a.m. the woman, 23-year-old Ada Hernandez, told officers that she was in labor and was escorted to a nurse's station. Medical staff determined that Hernandez needed to be transferred to Parkland Hospital in Dallas to deliver the child. Before the ambulance arrived, Hernandez's labor intensified and she delivered the baby boy in the elevator at 5:43 a.m.
Thankfully, the story has a happy ending - the woman was set to be paroled the same day so she and the baby will be discharged from the hospital.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Midwifery Legal Update - Wisconsin

Midwife Helen Dentice of Milwaukee was sentenced this week to six months of jail time and three years' probation on charges of practicing medicine without a license and delivering a controlled substance (link).

Although one could argue (I am not making a case either way, as I was not there and do not know what happened) that Ms. Dentice was somehow culpable in the death of this baby - and certainly she did not meet the requirements for certification of midwives now in place in Wisconsin - the Mommy Blawger would like to point out that the acts for which she was convicted are perfectly legal and/or regulated in most of the 41 states which authorize direct-entry midwifery, including my home state of Texas.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Breastfeeding Legal Update - Vermont (Delta/Freedom/Mesa)

Freedom and Delta airlines have asked that the complaint filed with the Vermont Human Rights Commission against them be dismissed. (link)
[Emily] Gillette is arguing that her civil rights were violated because breast-feeding is a right protected by Vermont's Public Accommodations Law.
Freedom Airlines argued in a Monday letter to the Human Rights Commission that the federal Airlines Deregulation Act trumps Vermont's human rights law, because state law cannot interfere with air carrier service.
Delta is, not surprisingly, arguing that since the flight attendant was a Freedom employee, they are not a proper party to the complaint.

In this case, the plane was on the ground so there is (apparently) no jurisdictional or choice-of- law question. If the plane was in the air, however, what then? Sounds like a law exam question to me.

(HT: Amy)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Governments Should Promote Community Midwifery.

The U.N. Population Fund, the World Health Organization, and the International Confederation of Midwives "called on governments worldwide to promote midwifery in local communities to address the lack of access to skilled childbirth care." (link) :
According to UNFPA, half of the world's pregnant women are without access to skilled care at childbirth. The health of pregnant women and their infants has improved in Costa Rica, Egypt, Malaysia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Tunisia because of the countries' investment in midwives and related training, the agency says. In addition, significant improvements in maternal and newborn health have been seen in Northern Africa, eastern Asia, Southeast Asia and Latin America, UNFPA reported.

Breastfeeding baby's mom among those missing in raid

The raid carried out this wek by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials at six Swift plants across the country disrupted families - including separating one breastfeeding baby from his mother.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Blawgy Things

The State Bar of Texas has a list on its website titled "Blogs by Texas Lawyers". Neat.

Please check out Blawg Review #86 and Blawg Review #87 for more blawgerly goodness.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Breastfeeding Legislative Update: New York and Massachusetts

The Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog has the lowdown.

Wisconsin Nurse Charged

Charge against Wisconsin nurse in death shocks fellow caregivers:

Prosecutors filed a felony charge against [Julie] Thao, igniting a debate over whether medical professionals who make unintentional yet deadly mistakes should face criminal charges, on top of civil punishment from victims and regulators.

Officials say the charge against Thao reflected a series of dangerous decisions she made that led to the July 5 death of 16-year-old Jasmine Gant, an expectant mother whose 8-pound baby boy survived.

Gant died after Thao mistakenly gave her a dose of epidural instead of penicillin to treat a strep infection during labor. The epidural, a potent pain reliever used during child birth, caused Gant to go into cardiac arrest and die within hours.

Thao told investigators she was in a rush to treat Gant and inadvertently scooped up the bag containing epidural instead of penicillin. Both medications were on the counter in the birthing suite at St. Mary's Medical Center in Madison.

The case has alarmed groups representing medical professionals who say punishment for unintentional errors should be left to regulators and the civil court system.

While calling the death tragic, they say the charge sends the wrong message at a time of nursing shortages and attempts to improve self-reporting of medical errors.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

DFW Airport Nurse-in, Take II

(or: The Mommy Blawger Gets "Lactive")

I arrive at 10:30am. As I pull into a parking space, I notice two women in the car next to me unloading small children - one is wearing a sling. I think, "they're with me". And they are. As we head inside the terminal, we look for the Delta counter. One of the women spots the group - "I see baby carriers," she says, and we head that way. And indeed, although this is a nurse-in, it looks more like a baby-wearing conference. Ring slings, pouches, Mei Tais, simple pieces of cloth, shawls, you name it. In fact, there are nearly 30 children under the age of 5, and only 3 or 4 strollers.

Someone comes around with stickers featuring the new international breastfeeding symbol, and a sign-in sheet. Later I learn that a total of 27 adults signed in, although it looked to be more than that. There are a couple dads and a few women without babies. When I arrive, there are two camera crews, CW33 and another one, NBC5 I think. The around 10:45, Jeff Brady, the anchor from WFAA 8, shows up. All of the reporters and crews shake hands and say "hi there" like they are best buds.

The news teams do a bunch of interviews. The only disconcerting thing is that whenever a cameraman spots a baby starting to nurse, he comes right over for a close-up. Nothing screams "look at me, I'm breastfeeding!" like a news camera parked six inches from your boob.

Really, nothing much happens. We have no contact with airport police or Delta employees, except one official who will occasionally come by and remind everyone to keep the walkway clear. Mostly we just stand around and chat like mothers of young children are apt to do. I run into women I know from our local homebirth organization, a woman I met at CAPPA CBE training this summer, a woman whose garage sale I went to a couple months ago, and women I know online but have never met in real life. There were La Leche League people, attachment parenting people, homebirthers, and babywearing gurus. Younger moms and older moms. First-time moms and moms with a bunch. Crunchy and not-so-crunchy.

At about 11 am, the power goes out. I sense hopes for a top news spot vanish as the story shifts to "breaking news! power outage at DFW airport strands travelers". Thankfully, the power comes back on after 15 minutes or so. My milk lets down, and I take advantage of the distraction to nurse Andrew, completely unnoticed. Although I do breastfeed in public, and have ever since my first was two weeks old, it has taken me three babies and 4 1/2 years to become entirely comfortable with it. I don't really want to do it on camera.

Perhaps because I am standing towards the end of the long row of moms & babies, or perhaps because I just look approachable, passers-by keep asking me what is going on. One asks if this is a convention; another says excitedly, "is this a nurse-in?" I don't think anyone would have taken much notice if it weren't for the cameras and reporters hanging around.

By 11:30, cranky toddlers hit "meltdown" and folks start to leave. Jeff Brady has, apparently, contacted DFW Airport for a statement. Speaking with four of the women who were at the first nurse-in, he says that a spokesperson for the airport claims that they were passing out literature and holding signs, both activities which require permits, and that is why the police intervened. The women disagree, and are filmed giving their version of events. None of this is going to make the evening news, of course.

Later, I wonder what all the fuss was about. We made a point. We'll probably be on t.v. I met some interesting people. I talked to four or five strangers who know more about breastfeeding laws than they did before. Maybe we educated some people. Maybe we offended some people. No one got arrested.

In the afternoon, mom and I went for haircuts. When we told mom's stylist about the nurse-in, she related an incident that happened here in the North Texas area. She was at a restaurant, and a woman was feeding a small baby in the waiting area. She was totally covered by a blanket, and in fact the stylist and her husband were not aware she was nursing at first. Then another man in the waiting area began telling the woman she "should not be doing that". Next his wife started in on her. Finally the manager of the restaurant came out and told the woman she should either finish up in the restroom, or out in her car. The stylist and her husband were appalled that people would be yelling at a woman holding a small baby, nursing or not.

Then it struck me. For every Emily Gillette who is strong enough and educated enough to stand up for her rights - get a lawyer and file a complaint, know the right people to contact to inspire over 700 people in 40 cities to show up at their local airports two days before Thanksgiving garnering national and international media coverage - there are countless others who are intimidated, harassed, or embarrassed, and do nothing. Worse, think of the mothers who never breastfeed because they are daunted by the thought of nursing in public and want to have a life. Think of the babies whose hunger cries are ignored because they come at an "inconvenient" time or place, impairing the nursing relationship and reducing their mom's milk supply.

Modesty, or "discretion", is a red herring. I see women and girls all the time dressed immodestly. I would love to ask a woman with a lace thong peeking out of her ultra-low-cut jeans to just wrap a sweater around her waist. I don't want to see that, and I don't want my husband or young boys to see it either. What would be so hard about covering up a little? But I don't, because she is free to dress how she wants, and so am I. We invaded Afghanistan to defeat the Taliban (and their oppressive treatment of women), but some misinformed people here at home still try to dictate what a mother and baby can do in public.

This battle is about raising awareness of the law. Until policemen, flight attendants, restaurant managers, store owners, movie theater ushers, and last but not least the mothers themselves know that a baby has the right to breastfeed anytime, anywhere, and its mother is not legally required to be "discreet", the Nurse-in will continue to be used until society as a whole, "gets it".

To borrow a famous quote about childbirth, if you don't know your rights, you don't have any.