Healthcare Reform {vote for me}

I know “the bill” just passed – the one everyone is talking about, with rage and fury. {But that’s not what this post is about}.

I just want to share 3 of my ideas for making healthcare better:

Switch to a midwifery model of care for births.

Did you know that:

Screen shot 2010 03 22 at 2.30.04 PM 150x148 Healthcare Reform {vote for me}This seems absurd when we have highly skilled surgeons and the latest & greatest technology. Women give birth in posh hospitals with flat screen monitors and continuous monitoring, but the maternal mortality rate is INCREASING.

If you want the very best birthing outcomes for both mother and baby, you should probably move to the Netherlands, where the Cesarean rate hovers at about 12%. The Netherlands (and, indeed, almost all of Europe) utilize midwives as the first line of care for normal pregnant women. The country also has the highest rate of home births in the western world at 30 percent and only 10 percent of women in labor are given pain relief. Compare that to the United States where “Less than 1 percent of all births in the United States take place outside the hospital (ABC News, March 2010).”

Encourage and support breastfeeding.

Screen shot 2010 03 22 at 2.48.52 PM Healthcare Reform {vote for me}The benefits of breastfeeding are well-documented. So well-documented, in fact, that I almost feel they don’t need to be stated here. Breastfed babies are less likely to get diabetes, cancer, asthma, liver disease, ear infections, diarrhea, allergies, even cavities. They’re less likely to die of SIDS, less likely to be obese, etc.

Although the initiation rate for breastfeeding in the US is 73% (CDC, 2009 Breastfeeding Report Card), the percentage of moms exclusively breastfeeding at 3 months drops to 33% and then to 13% at 6 months. There are many, many reasons behind this (lack of support, not knowing what to expect, the fact that breastfeeding can hurt, etc.) – but I do believe that we could do a much better job of educating and championing new mothers with regards to breastfeeding.

Treat obesity as a threat to our economy and the future of our country.

exercise busy schedule Healthcare Reform {vote for me}The United States has one of the highest obesity rates in the world, with 67% of adults being overweight and 34% being obese. Should current trends continue, 75% of adults in the United States are projected to be overweight and 41% obese by 2015.

It goes without saying that obesity puts a huge strain on healthcare. Indeed, obesity has increased health care use and expenditures,costing society an estimated $117 billion in direct and indirect costs.This accounts for 6% to 12% of national health care expenditures in the Unites States! Unreal.

How should the government go about tackling these issues?

uncle sam 108x150 Healthcare Reform {vote for me}I have ideas. A lot of ideas. The government could make it easier for midwives to practice, for example. They could support birth centers and home births or, better yet, work toward a positive relationship between midwives and OBs. They could give insurance cuts or tax credits to people who breastfeed or who stay within a healthy BMI (Body Mass Index). They could channel the incredible power of social media to get the word out about nutrition and exercise.

Or…WE could just do it ourselves. I’m not really a “BIG Government” kind-of girl. I appreciate the government and its role to keep our country safe and thriving, but – overall – I like the idea of individual people working together to improve their communities. Grassroots efforts, if you will.

The truth is that we need to vote with our voices, our hands, and our pocketbooks.

Choose a midwife. Breastfeed your baby. Go for a walk. Buy eggs, milk, and meat from a local farm with ethical standards. Use facebook as more than just a place to say what you ate for dinner. Love your family. Your small actions have a ripple effect that can rock your local and global community.

stephanie sheaffer Healthcare Reform {vote for me}So, vote for me. Stephanie Sheaffer.

Actually, scratch that. Vote with your actions. Find your causes. Pursue them…with humility, hard work, and plenty of kindness. That last sentence is particularly important.

YOUR TURN: What do you think our country’s most important healthcare issues are?

  • Amy @ Finer Things

    Such a great post! I’m right there with ya, but I don’t mind going to the hospital… ONLY because I’ve got a doctor who is willing to do it MY way AND the birthing suites are just that. Suites. They are SO NICE and relaxing. I can handle that.

  • http://workoutmommy.com/ workout mommy

    i would definitely vote for you! Great post Steph! I can’t think of anything else to add.

  • http://www.forfreeyatake.blogspot.com Julie H

    Great post! :)

  • Jessica

    I agree with you 100% about the midwife thing, and I was sooo disappointed to not be able to have a water birth at the birthing center (my pregnancy became high risk half way through I needed a cerclage. A good documentary regarding all that if you have not seen it yet is “The Business of Being Born”. Great movie, full of information. I am hoping next time if I can get the cerclage removed before delivery that I can be a normal pregnant person and have a birth center experience.

  • Soni

    This is why I read your blog…you eloquently state exactly what’s going on in my head, and then some. This is excellent!! Stephanie for President!

  • http://www.mamanash.com Jenny N.

    Two thumbs up! I had an idea a while ago that hospitals should offer incentives for women who go without pain meds while in labor because statistically is causes the least amount of interventions. It would save them money in the long run.

    You also forgot to add the worst health care enemy of them all. SMOKERS! Don’t even get me started on this one…

  • Dawn

    Great post Stephanie! We all could be doing so much more, speaking up and making changes. I know our family is on a good track but there are things we could do differently tomorrow that would make our future and our health better immediately. I am truly inspired! :)

  • http://www.barefootchildhood.com Madeline

    Good one, Stephanie! You’ve hit the top three issues on my list.
    Sadly, midwives aren’t even available to everyone. I feel really lucky to have found mine. She’s the only midwife doing homebirths who covers my area, and there are large portions of Mississippi that don’t have anyone to do homebirths. I wouldn’t suggest most of the hospital midwives around here. Many of them aren’t very good at what they do, and they are suppressed by a hospital system that highly encourages c-sections, inductions, and loads of drugs.
    It would be great if more options like homebirths and birth centers were made available all over the country.

  • http://chasingblue.wordpress.com nicole chasing blue

    That was a great post!

    I absolutely agree with you. I work with moms to help them begin and continue to breastfeed successfully. It always excites me to see a mom breastfeed longer than she expected and to have her give the best to her baby.

  • kristen

    I read somewhere that, in the Netherlands, I think, you are not allowed to birth in a hospital unless you are a high risk pregnancy. If you do, you have to pay more. Interesting incentive to do things the more natural route.
    I think what saddens me is when I see developing countries try to be like America in so many medical ways. Our time overseas showed me that, and while we are still too medicalized when it comes to birth (and other things), it was interested to see how those countries are even farther behind in some ways. I think the c-section rate in Indonesia (in the cities, obviously) is far higher than it is here.

  • http://lizzydearslife.net Liz

    I do agree with you, these are all great points!

    My first son was born in a hospital, albeit naturally, no pain meds. or epidural whatsoever. I had an emergency situation with my second son, that required a c-section, so after becoming pregnant with my third I was told that “no one” would do a VBAC, and that since I had a high-risk situation because of my previous pregnancy, that I should just stick to the c-section, and not seek a midwife, or other out of town doctor. I fell for it, and now have had three c-sections total. If my husband and I have any more children, I would love to go to a midwife, and talk about a VBAC, but I’m not sure how safe it would be now.
    Thanks for the post!

  • http://www.thelifeofblights.com Sarah B.

    Amen and amen. I couldn’t have said it better myself. My OB has midwives in her practice and I have to say that I have never felt so nurtured or cared about in a “medical” setting as I did with those midwives.

    I would vote for you!

  • Michelle

    Health care reform is going to do some good things for midwives!

    I took this from the Citizens for Midwifery website:

    The following are now law:

    * MAMA Campaign’s “partial victory”: Senator Cantwell’s provision that will have the effect of requiring Medicaid reimbursement for licensed CPMs offering services in licensed birth centers
    * American Association of Birth Center’s provision that mandates Medicaid reimbursement of the birth center facility fee
    * Childbirth Connection’s provision requiring quality assessment and improvement measures specific to maternity care
    * American College of Nurse Midwives’ equitable reimbursement act for Certified Nurse Midwives
    * And: giving birth, having a cesarean section, or being the victim of domestic abuse will no longer be considered pre-existing conditions and used to deny insurance coverage to women!

    Whoot!!

  • Jennifer B

    Great post! I had a midwife and it was the best care ever!

    I agree with your post 100%

    I would add that another health issue is the over prescription of meds which in turn causes more health problems. There needs to be more focus on prevention and overall health.

    Our doctors should be required to take more than 2 weeks of health and it should be illegal across the board to accept kickbacks

  • Tiffany

    Very well said. While I was pregant with Lily my OB had a nurse who was in training to be a Certified Nurse Midwife. Now she is fully trained and I enjoy going to her for my annual exams. If I had another baby I would go see her.

    I would also be nice if health insurance companies would give discounts to health people.

  • http://coffeeandacookie.blogspot.com/ Jessica

    Great post Stephanie!
    I think one of the best reforms for health care would be tort reform…reducing the number of frivolous lawsuits would have a very positive impact on the affordability of health care, unlike the new bill, which is going to make insurance more expensive for everyone and ultimately will lead to a shortage of health care providers. No matter how much insurance you have, you may not have access to a doctor or a midwife.

    Let’s not forget personal responsibility here. It is not the role of the government to tell you how to take care of yourself and fix all your problems when you don’t. There are many good doctors out there who give good advice but their patients don’t follow it, and they never will – it is not a lack of education about the issue. These patients just want a magic pill so they can keep doing what they please. As much as I disagree, that is their right.

    Part of the reason the c-section rate is so high in this country is that many women choose to have a scheduled c-section or induction for non-medical reasons. The doctors are only providing what these women want – refer back to what I said about personal responsibility. Obese women are also more likely to have c-sections and trouble breast feeding.

    So as Stephanie says, take care of yourself and vote with your voices, hands and pocketbooks!

  • http://anonymisskris.wordpress.com Kris

    The fact of the matter is that health care FOR PROFIT, profits no one except those making the money. I agree with all your points. What I think this country needs is true INSURANCE reform…which this health care bill only lightly touches on IMO. If the bottom line for my health care is how much extra money they can get out of me, then how can I ever be sure my best interests are EVER at heart?

    K.

  • http://www.emergingmummy.com Sarah@EmergingMummy

    *stands and applauds*

  • http://semicrunchymama.wordpress.com Crystal @ Semi-Crunchy Mama

    You’d get my vote! I agree on all three of these issues. I’m already worried about the uphill battle I may be facing the next time I’m pregnant, because my son’s birth was a “emergency” c-section (the more I’ve learned over the last two years, the less of an “emergency” it’s appearing to have been…). My insurance won’t cover homebirth, the birthing center won’t accept VBAC patients, and my only other option — an OB in the hospital, comes with an over 30% c-section rate, OBs who claim that they may “let” me undergo a trial of labor as long as I go into labor before my due date, and a laundry list of policies & procedures that will make a natural birth nearly impossible. Huge reforms in maternity care are needed, and systems like those in the Netherlands are proof positive that our country’s highly medicalized approach to pregnancy and childbirth is overkill…and too often literally so.

  • Jessie

    I commend you on your opinions! I was barely able to get pregnant naturally (my daughter was a miracle) and from conception was on the verge of miscarriage, literally, so I was not a “typical” pregnancy. I did not have the ability to have a “normal” pregnancy, so I could not consider a midwife/home birth option and was at an OB dr’s office from the 2nd week (not kidding). I was actually fortunate for the medical technology that kept us both alive and her born healthy. That said, I took some pre-baby classes with a midwife and she was great. I think that the statistics show that something is definitely wrong with the way we are handling our births though and our current model needs to be changed, DRASTICALLY.

  • http://www.hipgreendeals.com Christine

    You totally made me look at things differently when I went to school today. The kids were sharing recipies and brought in samples. With the exception of peanut butter and jelly on wheat and smoothies, it was all brownies, cupcakes, and cookies. It was a wake up call that these kids need to seriously learn to love and snack on more healthy foods so they make better choices later on. The alternative is taxpayers paying more and more…

  • Cindi

    Our eating habits and the obesity problem. So many health issues could be lessened or eradicated by changing these two issues….. Cindi

  • Chrissy MacCEO

    I really wanted to blog about this topic, but I am scared that I’ll put a bas taste in my readers mouths–you did a fantasic job expressing your opinion.

    I personally am content with the healthcare bill, for the most part. I think that our country needs help, and while I am all for a grassroots movement, we need something more immediate and the way to do that is to allow the governemnt to step in.

    There are so many remarkably wonderful things this bill has, and the parts that aren’t so great aren’t what makes it. The goods tuff does, and that good stuff is what both parties actually agree on. The rest is just party line BS.

    I think obesity is key to keeping our country afloat. ALmost every major illness is made so much worse, if not completely caused by, obesity.

  • Sarah R

    I agree so much with all you’ve said, and I also agree that having the government involved is NOT the answer. We need a grass roots campaign and to really encourage people to make healthy decisions. When I made the decision to exclusively breastfeed my son until he weaned himself, I got so many discouraging comments, like “Well you’ll be tied to the house now” etc. I was able to exclusively breastfeed my son even while we traveled (I was NOT tied to the house!) and even though I work outside the home 3 days/week (I was able to pump in a room at work). I am very fortunate to work in a place that is family friendly and 100% supported my decision to breastfeed. I think in the media we hear a lot of negatives about breastfeeding but none of the positives. My son weaned himself and now I really miss breastfeeding!

    Also, I think the companies should have more wellness programs to encourage employees to be healthy. There would be less sick days for all employees and employees would be more productive. I’m sure any wellness program would pay for itself in the form of increased productivity.

  • http://www.mycup2yours.com Genny

    Great points, Stephanie. :) I love the focus on proactive health.

  • Nancy S.

    I would also add “support extended breastfeeding”. Our society thinks it’s disgusting to allow a child to nurse past 1 year of age even though the natural age of weaning is 2 1/2 to 7 years of age. Those of us that allow our children to wean on their own usually have to go into “the closet” past 2 years of age in fear of those that call this abnormal(usually they call it worse things).

  • http://crazydogslife.blogspot.com Blessed

    This is a great post.

    I think the breastfeeding movement has done an awesome job of getting mothers to start breast feeding and now they need to work on getting mothers to keep breastfeeding. I have a friend who will give birth any day now and she’s talking about only breastfeeding for 3 months, I keep encouraging her to do it for a full year.

    Ah obesity – yes, that is an issue that definitely needs to be dealt with! (As she sits here on her couch instead of working to loose that next 20 pounds she needs to drop… :D ) Seriously though – I am amazed by how much processed foods people eat these days, how rare homemade mac-n-cheese is, how few people know how to make spaghetti sauce from scratch… I believe that our reliance on prepped food along with our fascination with all things electronic and indoors has really hurt us in this area. I’m fighting that fight here at home, I can teach my kids to eat good food and to enjoy playing hard outside – don’t need a government program for that.

    As for the healthcare bill – I’m not excited about it, I don’t think it will be as bad as the opponents are saying or as good as those who support it are saying. It’s more government, more government requires more funding, that means I have to make more money in order to give them more money and maintain the same amount of money I need to live on. Oh well – I still think that overall we live in the best country in the world and I’m thankful for our freedom. Especially our freedoms to vote and to disagree with our government.

  • Beth

    yay for back to basics! I have exclusivly breastfed my 7mo old, and wow, what a difference from my 4yr old who was only bottle fed as a baby! He had been sick at least 5 times by now and she has only been sick once! I believe in the power of breastmilk! And Midwives for that matter as well! Awesome post Stephanie!

  • http://www.swonderland.net Erin

    The wasteful spending involved with hospital birth drives me nuts! We self paid for two hospital births because we didn’t have maternity insurance and oh my goodness, it’s crazy. Over managed and over drugged and over charged, with less attention paid to what is actually needed… and no one mentions this aspect of the healthcare issue, ever! Glad to see it here. :)

  • Dayna

    Lovely post. Wholehearted agreement.

  • http://keepingupwiththejohnson5.blogspot.com/ kris

    And Breastfeeding should be a NORM

  • http://www.welcometomarriedlife.com Krista

    yeah, and I would have to say that my mid-wife assisted birth last week at the birthing center was 100 times better than being at the hospital! she actually helped me labor which was more than anyone at the hospital would have done. I don’t know how I would have made such a long labor as my first in the birthing (36 hours), but I do know that being relaxed helped a LOT this time and I was NOT relaxed being in the hospital, afraid they were going to force me to do something I didn’t want to do.

  • Vanessa

    Your post reminds me of the Documentary Rikki Lake made called “The Business of being Born”. Have you seen it. It was very interesting, I don’t ever plan to have c-sections unless medically required, but I don’t think I could ever go with out the epidural.

    Although I agree with you about breast feeding being beneficial, I know several mothers who are extended breast feeding their toddlers and they seem to be sick all the time with colds or ear infections. I nursed my children too, not as long as I wanted but having a 15 month old and a new baby is hard… But compared to those who are nursing and exclusively nursing… my children seem to be very healthy.

    I just say go with what feels most comfortable for you! Or in this case me!

  • Michele

    Excellent ideas! I could not agree with you more.

  • Rachel C

    I love that onesie in the first picture! Do you know if it can be purchased somewhere?