Hard Push for Medicalized Childbirth

20th century doctors, most white and male, pushed for medicalized childbirth with so-called modern practices like forceps and sedation, and undermined the traditional birthing practices of midwives, often black women.

Today in the US, less than 10% of deliveries are midwife-led, though research shows low-risk pregnancies handled by midwives have fewer complications.

European countries where midwives are the norm have lower maternal mortality rates, while in the US rates are climbing. Around half of US counties have no OB-GYNs; 56% don’t have midwives.

Rivalry aside, solving these urgent problem means “treating obstetrics and midwifery as complementary,” writes Annalisa Merelli.


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