Pleasing Birth: Midwives and Maternity Care in the Netherlands

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Amsterdam University Press, Jan 1, 2005 - 296 pages
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Women have long searched for a pleasing birth—a birth with a minimum of fear and pain, in the company of supportive family, friends, and caregivers, a birth that ends with a healthy mother and baby gazing into each other's eyes. For women in the Netherlands, such a birth is defined as one at home under the care of a midwife. In a country known for its liberal approach to drugs, prostitution, and euthanasia, government support for midwife-attended home birth is perhaps its most radical policy: every other modern nation regards birth as too risky to occur outside a hospital setting.

In exploring the historical, social, and cultural customs responsible for the Dutch way of birth, Raymond De Vries opens a new page in the analysis of health care and explains why maternal care reform has proven so difficult in the U.S. He carefully documents the way culture shapes the organization of health care, showing how the unique maternity care system of the Netherlands is the result of Dutch ideas about home, the family, women, the body and pain, thriftiness, heroes, and solidarity.

A Pleasing Birth breaks new ground and closes gaps in our knowledge of the social and cultural foundations of health care. Offering a view into the Dutch notion of maternity care, De Vries also offers a chance of imagining how Dutch practices can reform health care in the U.S. not just for mothers and babies, but for all Americans.
  

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Page 257 - Everaerd. 1990. Place of delivery in the Netherlands: Maternal motives and background variables related to preferences for home or hospital confinement.
Page 140 - Where could the speck or two possibly have come from, unless produced by spontaneous generation ? There are no specks in the road, which is a neat parquet of scoured and polished brick ; nor on the trees, whose trunks are to all appearance carefully sponged every morning. The speck exists evidently only as a sort of mathematical point, capable of extension, in the good woman's Batavian brain, and the operation with her copper kettle is, as the metaphysicians would say, purely subjective. It is a...
Page 139 - ... queer little engine of polished copper over the majestic front of a genteel mansion whose complexion is not a visible shade less immaculate than her own. The performance suggests a dozen questions, and you can only answer them with a laugh. What is she doing, and why is she doing it ? Does she imagine the house has a speck or two which it is of consequence to remove, or is the squirt applied merely for purposes of light refreshment, of endearment, as it were ? Where could the speck or two possibly...
Page 62 - ... on their activities. The functions of the midwife were curtailed during the eighteenth century — regulations forbidding her from using instruments were strengthened, her role in gynaecology and minor surgery undermined, her competence confined to normal births, falling under the supervision of the doctors. Yet her position as attendant in normal cases of childbirth was guaranteed, something not assured in other European countries. The eighteenth century laid the groundwork of a confirmation...
Page 147 - Netherlands in the seventeenth century reflected the traditional bourgeois virtues — an unruffled moderation, an admiration for hard work, and a financial prudence bordering on parsimony. Thrift evolved naturally in a society of merchants and traders who, moreover, lived in a country which required a constant communal investment in canals, dikes, sluices, and windmills to keep the North Sea at bay.
Page 239 - Immaculate Deception: A New Look at Women and Childbirth in America (1975...
Page 264 - Weel. 1996. Home birth: Safe in selected women, and with adequate infrastructure and support. British Medical Journal 313: 1276-1277. Starr, P. 1982. The Social Transformation of American Medicine. New York: Basic Books. Statens helsetilsyn.
Page 139 - List of Illustrations 671 Index 683 PREFACE "/ have bin the longer aboutt the discription of this place etts., because there are soe many particularities wherein it differs (and in som excells) allsoe beeing myself somewhat affectionated and enclined to the Manner of the Country.
Page 239 - ... Male practitioners were turned into midwives not by their own desire, but through the choices of women . . . the making of man-midwifery was the work of women" (192). His work rests on an analysis of the role of fashion in shaping medical practice: "Fashion was in general the symbolic reflection of a new culture of class; in the world of women, for which childbirth was so crucial, fashion dictated the need for the man-midwife . . . fashion offered a bridge by which those of intermediate or ambiguous...
Page 41 - US Department of Health and Human Service Vital Statistics of the United States, Vol. I— Natality, Hyattsville, MD, US Department of Health and Human Services, 1993; National Center for Health Statistics, Hyattsville, MD, "Live births by place of delivery and attendant, according to race and Hispanic origin: United States, selected years 1975-99...

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