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VBAC in the news

June 2, 2009

I recently discovered a couple of VBAC-relevant news items that I think are worth sharing.

The first is a segment from Mary Alice Williams on Religion & Ethics Newsweekly (here featured on PBS’s website).  Simply entitled “Dr. T,” it explores the role that faith plays in the work of Dr. Joseph Tate, an obstetrician in the Atlanta area.  Of particular interest to VBAC-advocates (or “VBACtivists,” if you like) is the fact that Dr. Tate is not only VBAC-supportive (and has attended a number of VBAmCs, or VBACs after multiple cesarean) but is also a subscribing member of the Atlanta ICAN chapter.

While this is not the first time that I had heard of Dr. Tate (his support for VBACs and natural birth is fairly well-known), I was intrigued to see the ways in which he ties his faith (Dr. Tate is an Orthodox Jew) into his practice of medicine.

(As an aside, the one “beef” that I have with the piece is the fact that part of Ms. Williams’s narration includes the line that “Dr. Tate risks VBACs all of the time.”  This line makes it seem as if Dr. Tate is engaged in some sort of cutting-edge, unstudied, revolutionary medical practice simply by following evidence-based medicine and “allowing” women to birth their babies vaginally.  While I do not wish to undermine the real risk of uterine rupture for moms attempting VBAC, I think that Ms. Williams’s line possibly exaggerates this risk–which, for the record, is less than 1%.  In fact, for this line to characterize the risk of VBAC accurately, there should also be included a statement along the lines that “Doctors who deny VBACs risk c-sections all of the time.”  An increased risk of infection, damage to the bladder and other internal organs, and future reproductive problems for the mother, and lacerations, iatrogenic prematurity, and “wet lung” for babies are real risks, after all!)

*gets down from soapbox*

The second “VBAC-relevant news item worth sharing” is an article from the LA Times entitled Childbirth: Can the US Improve? (Thanks to my email updates from The Business of Being Born for alerting me to this piece.)  Kudos for Lisa Girion for pointing out not only the exhorbitant costs of cesareans but also the health risks that c-sections pose to moms and their babies.  Additional kudos are deserved for addressing not only the benefits and risks of VBAC and unnecessary induction but also the fact that so many women are being denied VBACs–an issue that contributes not only to skyrocketing health costs but also to increased maternal and neonatal health problems.

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