Meghan Markle has reportedly decided to deviate from royal tradition and have her baby at home, with the help of midwives and doulas. Top obstetricians from around the world are sceptical about the decision as this is Markle’s first child, that too at the age of 37, reports The DailyMail.
Queen Elizabeth herself gave birth to all her four children at home, in Buckingham Palace and Clarence House. But since then, all royal births have taken place in hospitals, mainly, St. Mary’s Hospital in Paddington. The Duchess of Cambridge had all her three children at the hospital’s elite Lindo Wing.
The world’s top obstetricians and gynaecologists, who were gathered at the annual meeting of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, ridiculed the Markle’s home birth plan. The Duchess is ‘geriatric’ in terms of childbirth and is a couple of years too old to be classified as low-risk. But the idea of home births in UK is more popular than in the US.
Home births are safer in the UK as there is a more extensive and qualified system of care to deal with it. But that system is not prevalent in the US. In the 1900s, a campaign was run in the US, wherein midwives were disparaged and the importance of obstetricians was elevated. ‘We saw a very deliberate approach, with campaigns to move people into hospitals and out of their homes,’ said Dr Lisa Kane Low, an associate professor at the University Of Michigan’s School Of Nursing.
US has witnessed high number of maternal deaths in the recent years. Doctors have not found a concrete reason for this occurrence but are now leaning towards the idea of home births led by mid-wives. Statistics show that in UK and Western Europe, fewer than 9.2 per 100,000 die in childbirth. But in US, the maternal deaths are at 26.5 per 100,000.
Evidence now suggests that the mortality rate is low in UK due to the popularity of midwives; it eliminates the use of C-sections, forceps and doesn’t believe in inducing labour while concentrating on a natural birthing process.
Testimonies from black American women such as Serena Williams and Beyonce have proven that there is a racial gap in the maternal mortality rates in the US. Williams suffered from a life-threatening pulmonary embolism and Beyonce had pre-eclampsia, a life-threatening hypertension; but both their concerns were dismissed.It doesn’t matter that they are world-famous personalities. It just boils down to the colour of their skin. “Institutionalised racism is prevalent in US and it is one of the bigger issues that must be addressed to lower maternal mortality rate,” said Lisa Hollier, president of ACOG.
Statistics have also shown that 9 per cent of maternal deaths were preventable in the US and a whopping 59 per cent of African American mothers’ deaths could be avoided. The racial gap in maternal mortality is even more pronounced in the UK than it is in the US. Women of colour in the UK are five times more likely to die in childbirth than white women. In the US, they are three times more likely.
It is no wonder that the Duchess of Sussex would prefer a home birth for her royal baby. In the current national scenario of institutionalised racism, a home birth with the assistance of a doula would probably be a better alternative for a safe delivery.