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Many Expectant Moms in Iowa Forced to Give Birth Away from Home

November 5, 2008

Des Moines, IA – In Iowa, roughly one-third of all babies are born through Cesarean surgery. Experts say that number could be reduced if doctors would allow women to have a vaginal birth after they've had C-sections. More and more expectant mothers are traveling to University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics in Iowa City to give birth, because no other facilities will do a vaginal birth after C-section, also called a "V-Bac."

Dana Ericson is a Certified Nurse Midwife in Des Moines who says the latest guidelines require doctors to be present during labor. As a result, most hospitals have opted out of providing that care.

“They don't want to be sitting on the labor and delivery unit waiting, and they also cannot figure out a way to get paid for that waiting period."

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the guidelines are meant to ensure safety. However, Ericson is convinced the rule just isn't practical. She says she gets an average of six calls a week from pregnant women who have had Cesarean surgeries, and been turned down for a traditional birth. Some of her clients, she adds, are now traveling to Iowa City in order to find a more supportive care provider.

"I'm networking with the midwives in Iowa City on providing prenatal care here in Des Moines. They plan on giving birth to that baby in Iowa City, being attended by the nurse-midwives at the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics."

Ericson says if V-Bac was more commonplace, the state could probably cut its rate of Cesarean surgery in half. She says at least a dozen studies point to the dangers of Cesarean surgery, which carries twice the risk of injury and death for both mother and baby.

Dick Layman/Steve Powers, Public News Service - IA