The tradition of midwifery virtually disappeared in Canada during the early part of this century. Several generations of women gave up childbirth at home to the medical profession. They did this in the name of safety and pain relief, or simply because the option of being cared for by a midwife no longer existed. Midwifery should be re-instated as a legal and honourable profession.
With healthy pregnancies and under normal conditions, women should give birth at home with the professional assistance of a midwife. The most common argument against home births and midwifery are perpetuated by the medical establishment. As a profession, they openly oppose to lay midwifery, and as Dr. William Hall, president of the College of Physicians, said, he and the college oppose home births because they feel it is unsafe. (Ramondt, 1990)
Undoubtedly, the medical profession is correct in protesting home births in certain cases. Some pregnancies are difficult and some births are problematic. It is not difficult to concede that there are times when sound medical intervention is a necessity and a blessing. To insist, though, that every birth requires a hospital setting and the attendance of a doctor with ten years training is, as many experts in the field agree, rather ludicrous.
A study done by Dr. Lewis Mehl (cited in Barringtonm, 1985), matched a population of 421 women attended by physicians with 421 women attended by midwifes at home. The midwife sample fared far better with significantly less fetal distress, birth injuries, and infants needing resuscitation. The former head of the International Confederation of Gynecology & Obstetrics, Dr. Caldero Barcia, goes as far to state that, “iatrogenia (doctor-caused illness) is the main cause of fetal distress” (Barrington, 1985, p. 122).