birth

KUOW Photo/Nick Danielson

The stories from the labor and delivery ward at UW Medical Center in Seattle are often told breathlessly.

A nurse tells of a pregnant woman who arrived at the hospital brain dead after being airlifted from Eastern Washington. She was kept alive as nurses pumped her breasts to feed her baby, who had been delivered by cesarean section.

Sarah Meyer (right), a midwife, was recently hired by Whidbey Island General Hospital, as part of a plan to reduce the hospital's C-section rate.
Gary Taylor/Whidbey Island General Hospital

In Coupeville, Washington, Sarah Meyer is pressing a fetal Doppler on Christine Meyer’s belly to check the baby’s heart rate.

Meyer, no relation to Christine, then checks her ankles for swelling. Christine is 25, and this is her first baby. She says she chose Whidbey General because the hospital offers what she was looking for – a midwife.

Emily Cameron, left, her husband and their five children. Her first-born was delivered by C-section at 37 weeks, which she believes was unnecessary.
Courtesy Emily Cameron

Public health officials across the U.S. say the number of cesarean sections being performed has gotten way out of hand. It's a life-saving surgery for complicated births, but today nearly a third of pregnancies end up as a C-section.

Family photo

It’s 7 p.m. on a Thursday at Valley Hospital and Medical Center in Spokane, and Dr. Nathan Meltzer has already had a very long day.

He has one mother in labor. She’s been there for more than 12 hours.

Marcie Sillman talks with Washington State Department of Health's Dr. Kathy Lofy about the work the state is doing to figure out why south central Washington is experiencing a surge of fatal birth defects.

Hospitals are increasingly giving women the option of going through labor or giving birth in a pool of warm water. Laboring in the tub is fine, the nation's obstetricians and pediatricians say, but there's not enough proof that it's safe to actually give birth in one.

The doctors' statement has raised eyebrows among nurse-midwives, who have been helping women deliver in water for decades in order to ease pain and speed delivery.

Obstetricians perform more cesarean sections when there are financial incentives to do so, according to a new study that explores links between economic incentives and medical decision-making during childbirth.

Alan Alda, Natural Birth And Paula Poundstone

Aug 28, 2013
Flickr Photo/Frank de Kleine

Alan Alda On Making The Most Of Life

Our time here on Earth is limited. One day we will all be gone, passing into history. It is something we consciously know, but frequently ignore. Award-winning actor Alan Alda doesn't forget anymore — not after nearly dying on a mountaintop in Chile. You might know Alda from “M*A*S*H” or “The West Wing.” Alda is also the author of “Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself.”  Marcie Sillman talked with Alda in 2007 about life, work and not wasting time.

 A Story Of Natural Birth

Giving birth in American comes with many options: doctors, doulas, midwives, induction, cesarean. Only very few opt for natural births, a birth with no drugs and little to no intervention. Producer Katy Sewall brings an intimate look at one couple’s decision to go that way.

Paula Poundstone: On Writing, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder And TV

Paula Poundstone is known for improvising with the audience so well it seems planned. She’s a stand up comedian, winner of an Emmy Award and author of the book “There is Nothing in this Book that I Meant to Say.” In addition to comedy, Poundstone is a mother to three, a regular on television and radio, and a writer. Steve Scher talked with Poundstone back in 2007 about writing her book. Poundstone also answered listener calls.