I came across some info on Facebook yesterday(I know, sometimes I think it's about as reliable as wikipedia) about the FDA seizing a container of birthing pools at customs in Portland, OR. The intent being to 'inspect and destroy' the pools as they are unregistered medical equipment.
First of all, I hope it's not true. But sadly, it is very likely legit. The FDA has to look like they're doing something when in reality they're about as effective as a wet match. Running with the assumption that this isn't a ploy to garner media attention by the birthing pool industry, let's consider what reasons may be behind this sudden interest in birthing pools by the busy, busy, FDA.
One comment I read noted that under the new healthcare laws, medical equipment carries a 10% tax. From what I understand, the tax is on the companies making the devices. I'll be upfront and tell you I've no desire to understand taxes so forgive any ignorance on my part in how they work. My brain's already junked up enough thanks to variable annuities!
Anyways, the thought is that unless the birthing pools are labelled 'medical devices' by the FDA, they can't tax them with that special medical tax. Hence the motivation to seize and require they become registered or whatnot. Money is always a motivator.
Preventing access to alternative birthing options?
My own initial thoughts on this were that they wanted to prevent having the option of a safe birthing pool to deter women from homebirths. Now I know many have used bathtubs and even kiddie pools successfully, but my personal opinion is that those(especially the kiddie pools) aren't the safest option due to needed depth of water and consistent temperature. No flames, please. Just my opinion.
Again in this possibility, money could be a legitimate factor due to the continuing rise of homebirths in the US. In 2008, there were over 28,000 homebirths(0.67 %). I'm sure that number has increased significantly since '08. Just taking that 28,000 and averaging a 10,000 total cost each to have a baby in a hospital- well, you've got a significant number I'm sure some are losing sleep over.
Which on that note, if homebirths were only 0.67 % of all births in '08, birthing is some crazy profitable business for the doctors and hospitals of the remaining 99.33 %!
Those are the two main ideas I've come across thus far for the purported actions of the FDA. Maybe it's neither, maybe it's a combo of both? In either case money stands to be had and I'm guessing someone wants it.
The situation is of some interest and concern for me as I'd love to have a waterbirth. If I'd had my way, my son would have been born in water! At my most recent (hospital)Midwives appointment, I asked if I were to rent a tub could we could bring it in to the hospital. The answer was no, as they don't have anyone trained on them. I knew this would be the answer but hope if they see a demand, it'll eventually be offered.
But what about homebirth?
It is something we seriously considered with my son. Unfortunately due to finances, it just isn't feasible for us. (And unassisted is not an option for me.) In my area, we currently have 2 Certified Nurse Midwives. Each one's fee is about $5,500. I think that's fair. However my insurance won't cover a homebirth midwife- just midwives that birth in centers or hospitals. We don't even have a Birth Center active at the moment(will hopefully spring of 2012). To rent a birthing pool adds another $600. On the flip side, I can go through the midwife group attached to one of my local hospitals and it'll cost less than half of that $5,500. From experience with my son, I can say that while not all of my plan was followed, it was a huge difference from what happened at the birth of my daughter.
So waterbirth is a bit of a pipe dream for me. Unless they magically get that birth center up and running by October! (Not happening). Then again, we do hope to have 4 children so I've got another shot at maybe in the future.
Here are some links if you'd like to look at other blogs or see where I got my numbers:
http://www.doctorslounge.com/index.php/news/pb/20428 - Homebirth numbers
http://wonderfullymadebelliesandbabies.blogspot.com/2011/05/chance-to-make-change.html - FDA seizing pools blog post and great ideas for how to respond.
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Waterbirth-International/356739977947 - Waterbirth International facebook page
As I get more information I'll try to update my post. Still really hoping this isn't true.