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I missed this post earlier! Having lived in CA and gave birth in CA with my oldest DD, I can definitely say that CA is not a very NCB friendly. I think you have to seek out good practioners and that search might be long and hard. I knew I wanted a NCB but I wasn't as informed as I could have been in the fact that I could have found another care provider.
I took Bradley classes. The woman who taught the class was actually a midwife. At the time a homebirth was not something I would ever consider. I should have picked her brain WAY more!
I was lucky and did acheive my natural birth, but not with any help what so ever from my doctors. The only reason why it happened is because my labor was really fast and I barely made it to the hospital! I could have easily had my daughter at home.
Having now lived in Seattle where NCB is way more embraced, even though still not the majority, I am so happy to have given birth to my last two children here rather than there! I don't have many stats to quote, other than the articles you posted but from a first hand account I know it is definitely NOT NCB friendly!
A few obstetricians, like Dr. Jeffrey Phelan, director of quality assurance for obstetrics at Citrus Valley Medical Center in West Covina believe that a higher C-section rate might be beneficial, especially in preventing infant brain injuries. In rare cases, when a baby’s oxygen supply is cut off during birth, the baby may suffer brain damage. Because C-sections allow greater obstetrical control, Phelan says this problem might be alleviated by eliminating vaginal birth altogether.
Seriously? I think I would smack this guy if I ever met him. It's this thought process that is the problem. Too many think that vaginal birth is a problem. A c-section can help in certain medically necessary situations, but that doesn't mean that all women need to have them.
Our area isn't very NCB friendly, but the hospital system where I delivered has changed their policies on inductions from when Lily was born. They do not allow non-medical inductions prior to 39 weeks, including stripping membranes and "big baby". I have no stats on c-section rates, but I would hope that helps a little.