Obstetrical Violence

From the perspective of peace educator Colman McCarthy, obstetrical violence is an apt title for what goes on in labor and delivery rooms.  In the film The Business of Being Born that he shows to his college classes, it is said:  "the United States has the 2nd worst newborn death rate in the developed world" and "the U.S. has one of the highest maternal mortality rates among all industrialized countries."

“This is the outcome when you are a century or so post-midwives - you lose a lot of knowledge,” says Ina May Gaskin, "We are the only country where when birth went into the hospital the midwives did not go there with it."  Talking about midwives, Marslen Wagner, M.D., former director, Women's and Children's Health of the World Health Organization, says:  "Everywhere else in the world, that's what they do.  You can go to Great Britain, France, Germany, Scandinavia, Australia, New Zealand, Japan; you can go to all the highly developed countries where they are losing fewer women and fewer babies around the time of birth and what do you see?  You see midwives attending to 70 or 80% of all the births; and the doctors are there to attend to the small percentage of complications.   That is the proven system everywhere in the world.  The United States stands alone."  See below for statistics on birth in the U.S.

One of the film’s producers, Ricki Lake says about women giving birth in hospitals, “things are stacked up against them.”  Then Tina Cassidy, author of Birth, goes on to say about hospitals “ they’ve told women come to us, we’re open to anything,. .  but the hospital system is set up one way. . . and you get put through that system.”  The film (starting at the 11 minute mark) depicts an easy way to understand rendition of what happens in hospitals and why one intervention leads to another often including fetal distress and then C-section to rescue mother and baby.

In her book HypnoBirthing, Marie Mongan founder of the HypnoBirthing Institute, describes aptly and succinctly exactly what is wrong with labor, how we got here as a society and how to get back to nature’s design for a safer, easier, more comfortable birthing. 

Yes, obstetrical violence is real and needs to be healed.  The best cure is not to blame doctors, hospitals or history but to rise to the occasion armed with knowledge, conviction, willingness to prepare and practice, and like-minded positive practitioners so women giving birth can regain what is their birthright – safer, easier, more comfortable birth for themselves and their babies. 

A positive, respectful consciousness throughout the entire childbearing experience will contribute to peace while buying into fear, negativity, stress, and unnecessary intervention puts physical, mental and spiritual health at risk. This belief is grounded in Natural Law which comes from the ancient teachings of Yoga that includes the understanding that the energy that goes into something influences the outcome.  Modern Science corroborates as seen from primal health research, prenatal psychology, and other sections of this website. 

Programs such as HypnoBirthing.com and Calmbirth.org exist to help women and men overcome their internal fears as well as the status quo and give them tools to bring peace to the world - one baby at a time.


Birth statistics (provided by Colman McCarthy, Feb 2016)

 —annual number of births in US: 4.2 million

—birth by midwives: 320,983

—number of Certified Nurse Midwives in US: 11,018

—percentage of midwife assisted births in Europe and Japan: 70

—percentage in US: less than 8

—percentage of home birth in US in 1900: 95

—in 1938: 50

—current: 1

—percentage of C-section births in US: 33

—percentage recommended by World Health Organization: 10-15

—cost of C-sections in US in 2012: $15,041

—in Spain: $3,097

—in Argentina: $1,541

—ranking of US for maternal deaths in wealthy nations: 4th worst

—medical specialty with high malpractice risks: obstetrics

—number of obstetricians delivering Kate Middleton’s first child: 0

—number of midwives: 2

—popular TV show in Britain five years running: Call the Midwife


[Sources: American College of Nurse Midwives, International Federation of Health Plans, WHO, “Business of Being Born” documentary, London Daily Mail.