Susannah Fulcher’s Aug. 9 article about childbirth on the Outer Cape in this newspaper exposed serious weaknesses in our existing medical system here. It also made me want to share my gratitude for midwife Rebecca Taylor’s low-key professionalism in providing prenatal care and home delivery of our third child in Wellfleet in 2008, when I was 44. She was calm, perceptive, and competent during labor. A second midwife arrived from off Cape shortly before Ryland’s birth.
Three years earlier, a winter storm, rather than summer traffic, prevented us from reaching Tobey Hospital and Louise Bastarache for our second child’s birth. We were lucky to reach Cape Cod Hospital, and they served us well, though I was sorry not to have birthing options Louise would have provided.
Because of that relatively fast birth, in 2008 Louise cautioned that our third child was likely to be induced onsite in Wareham. Also, were he “late,” I would have to travel to Wareham daily for stress tests. Almost eight months into a low-risk pregnancy, with Louise’s support, we opted instead for a home birth — in part because Rebecca was here on the Outer Cape, a second midwife was willing to travel from New Bedford, and we were confident that both would err on the side of caution should we need hospital care. Receiving the remaining prenatal care and preparing for home birth, with no worries about traffic or storms or getting there on time, was a major stress relief for me, and I did deliver a healthy baby at home. It was wonderful.
Home birth, however, is not for everyone. The lack of pre- and postnatal care options on the Outer Cape for those seeking care within the established medical system is a failure to serve the community. Patricia Nadle, the CEO of Outer Cape Health, defended her decision not to hire a practitioner qualified for prenatal care by saying that “aging is driving the need in health care.”
Fulcher’s article reported that “statistics confirm this trend” toward fewer and fewer births here. But according to Mass.gov’s 2016 Birth Report (the last year for which numbers are available), 83 babies were born on the Outer Cape that year — five more than in 2010.
The truth is birth rates vary from year to year. Though the demographics show an aging population, Outer Cape families are having babies, and with new affordable housing efforts bearing fruit let’s hope that fewer young people will leave our towns. I’d love to see our local health-care system collaborate to provide onsite prenatal care for Outer Cape families.
Galen Malicoat lives in Wellfleet.