RFT readers agree: There's no birthplace like home

NEWS REAL, JULY 31, 2008

Midwives Rule

Home born are the best born: We have six children. Five were born at home. The home birth experience in every instance has been better (by far!) than our hospital birth experience ["No Birthplace Like Home," Kathleen McLaughlin]. I can't help but laugh at the self-aggrandizing doctors who like to play God, pretending to place value on protecting their patients, and then in the next breath commenting about how the political and legal climate is so dangerous. What, they're too dishonest to admit that they are afraid of losing business to a way of health care that is more efficient and safer for both mother and child — and much, much cheaper? (The average childbirth at a hospital costs more than $5,000 just for the birth!) And then the "good doctor" talks about how "theoretically" a midwife could be a high school dropout. Well, "theoretically" that doctor may have purchased his diploma from a diploma mill — or his rich daddy made a bountiful donation to his school so they'd let his D-minus son pass his medical exams and become a doctor. "Theoretically," the moon is made of green cheese. "Theoretically," the doctor may very well be in abject terror of losing his livelihood by inciting fear and suspicion without providing one lick of evidence that his "theoretical" situation could ever happen.
Ben Rogers, St. Peters, via the Internet

Proud papa: I'm a proud home birth dad, and the quote in the article that "home birth places the process of birth over the goal of a healthy baby" is to me indicative of the idiocy present in the modern American medical model. How can the two possibly be exclusive? In my mind, and in the minds of the medical establishment in most developed nations, the process of healthy birth is inextricably linked to the goal of a healthy baby. Putting negativity aside, though, best of luck to Dana and to all Missouri midwives. It's been a long time coming.
Adam, University City, via the Internet

Midwives know their stuff: I can certainly empathize with Dr. Vlastos' wife. After my hospital birth experience with my first, I too will be planning home births from now on. I think most women — as I did — assume that birthing in a hospital is the only possible option. It was not until I arrived at the hospital in labor that I was amazed to find out that the "care" available in the typical L&D department usually involves far more "widgets" than it does any personal help from the staff. (Remember the machine that goes "ping" from Monty Python's The Life of Brian?) Doctors may scoff at midwifery training, but midwives are far better trained than OBs are to support a mother through the little snags that come up during a normal labor and delivery. Most OB residents don't even get to see many normal births, let alone have experience with them. Now that educated mothers in Missouri have another legal option, we have the chance to take back our births, to avoid all the unnecessary interventions that are mostly designed to cover doctors' butts, and to change the image of the "normal" newborn from a screaming, terrified creature among bright lights and strangers to a peaceful, amazed little one who never has to leave its mother unless there is a real reason for concern.
Monica, St. Louis, via the Internet

FEATURE, JULY 24, 2008

A League of Their Own

Soccer kicks butt in St. Louis: What a thrill it was to pick up the RFT and see a soccer ball on the cover for Keegan Hamilton's article, "League of Nations," which did a wonderful job of covering St. Louis' soccer history while uncovering a section of the local soccer community that most people don't even know exists. The article mentions how "virtually no African Americans play in the league," and how, specifically, "a lot of African-American children aren't exposed to soccer." It is true that kids' exposure to soccer in communities like north St. Louis is nowhere near as thorough as that of basketball or football, but in the last few years that has been changing.

Earlier this summer over 300 people, predominately African-American families from north St. Louis came together for a daylong soccer tournament at the America SCORES St. Louis Jamboree! This is just one of the many events put on by America SCORES St. Louis, an after-school program that has been introducing students in St. Louis public elementary schools to soccer since 2005. In that time, hundreds of students have taken part in after-school practices and represented their school in games. In conjunction with soccer, the program focuses on improving writing skills and community service.

In a few weeks the 2008-09 America SCORES St. Louis season will begin in eight schools, including at the newest SCORES school, Patrick Henry Downtown Academy, located just a few blocks from the fields featured in your article. You can expect to see hundreds of new faces, many of them African-American, playing soccer around north St. Louis and beyond. Thank you for your great coverage of the world's most popular sport and its growth in St. Louis.
Pete Spanos, member, America SCORES Board of Directors, St. Louis