How midwifery policy in the Netherlands can help mothers in the United States
A Pleasing Birth
Midwives and Maternity Care in the Netherlands
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Raymond De Vries
Women have long searched for a pleasing birtha 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.
"A Pleasing Birth provides the most comprehensive look yet into the history, the philosophy, the social attitudes, the structures, and the institutions that underlie the Dutch maternity care system. Raymond De Vries explains why and how health policymakers in the Netherlands continue to put such importance on midwifery, home birth, and everything needed to support them."
"De Vries provides the definitive work on the Dutch obstetrical system, showing how this system not only reflects strong cultural values, but also has become entirely evidence-based, pointing the way toward better birth for all nations. A Pleasing Birth is essential reading for social scientists, birth professionals, birth activists, and educated consumersa masterpiece of insight!"
"De Vries goes beyond why birth is pleasing in the Netherlands to larger questions about the role of maternity care in the health care system, how the political system influences health care, who pays for and who profits from the provision of health care, and the effects of culture."
"[R]eaders from across the spectrum of participants in childbirth are urged to read this critical and important contribution to the literature, bearing witness to women's physiological capacity to give birth without assistance, to experience 'a pleasing birth.'"
"This is a rewarding book to read."
"[DeVries'] book is a close examination of the attitudes, statistics, traditions of resisting professional interference, politics, and legislation of healthcare and much more, and it gives the reader a full understanding of The Netherlands' remarkable achievements in the realm of healthy pregnancy and birth."
"The insights that [DeVries] brings are fascinating... [I]t provides a greater understanding for those who wish to influence and change health policy."
"De Vries has written an important book that gives well-deserved attention to the role of culture in the structuring and maintenance of health care systems in high-income countries such as the Netherlands and the United States."
"A Pleasing Birth is a sociological analysis of maternity care and midwifery as provided in the Netherlands; the analysis ranges from the micro- to the macro-level. DeVries provides the reader with variety of sociological evidence, such as historical data, comparative statistical date, and interviews with midwives and obstetricians... DeVries starts with an interesting story in the Preface... The book is very readable, has a good Glossary, and is well indexed."
"[I]mportant and wonderfully engrossing.... It is commonplace to end a review with the recommendation that a book belongs 'on the shelf of every scholar' but this book shouldn't sit on the shelf. It belongs closer at hand next to classics...and other titles one rereads, cites, recommends, and sticks bits of paper in so as not to lose track of the good quotes, useful definitions, and statistics, and memorable storiesin other words, the books that change the way we think about 'the culture of medicine.'"
"A Pleasing Birth reminds me of a painting by the 17th century Dutch artist, Vermeer. De Vries works on a small canvas - maternity care in the Netherlands - yet his study is filled with detail, depth, and illumination. The author examines the structural and cultural reasons for the unique qualities of the Dutch way of birth, but he offers much more in this meticulously researched and documented book."
"[DeVries] shows how and why the option of a midwife-attended home birth is
encouraged by the government and reinforced by the country's infrastructure and politics, including the education and health-insurance system, the political penchant for negotiation and compromise, and the network of good roads and hospitals that reassures mothers should they need furthercare."
Part I. Birth Care/Health Care
Part II. Forms
Part III. Forming
Part IV. Re-Forming