Meghan Markle’s Rumored Birth Plan Was Reportedly the Butt of a Joke for Some Top Doctors
"She’s 37, first birth ... I don’t know,” one doctor said.
UPDATE: A spokesperson from ACOG responded with the following statement: "While I was not in the room during this talk and I understand that the comment drew laughter, it was not someone in ACOG leadership who made the comment."
ACOG's stance on doulas is as follows: "Evidence suggests that, in addition to regular nursing care, continuous one-to-one emotional support provided by support personnel, such as a doula, is associated with improved outcomes for women in labor."
If, for whatever reason, this is your first time reading the news: Meghan Markle and Prince Harry welcomed their first child together on Monday morning. Yep, it finally happened!
Before Baby Sussex was born, it was reported that Meghan was considering an at-home birth, and clues have pointed to her doing exactly that — but the idea of a home birth apparently doesn't sit too well with some people.
Daily Mail reports that over the weekend, just before the Duchess of Sussex gave birth, she was the topic of conversation at an annual conference for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) in Nashville, Tenn. More specifically, she was the topic of a joke.
"Meghan Markle has decided she’s going to have a doula and a willow tree… let’s see how that goes," Dr. Timothy Draycott, envoy of the Royal College of Gynecology and a professor at the University of Bristol, reportedly said to "raucous laughter" from the audience of doctors in attendance. (A willow tree, if you're wondering, is a Celtic symbol of fertility.) "She’s 37, first birth ... I don’t know," he went on.
ACOG is a leading professional association of physicians specializing in obstetrics and gynecology in the U.S., and consists of some of the country's top obstetricians. While the association believes that hospitals and accredited birth centers are the safest settings for birth, they also hedge that "each woman has the right to make a medically informed decision about delivery," as long as they work with licensed midwives who can assist with birth.
At 37, the duchess falls into a category that's considered "geriatric," or "of advanced maternal age" for pregnant women. Geriatric pregnancies are associated with certain health risks, such as labor complications, need for a cesarean section, and gestational diabetes —which is likely why Dr. Draycott made a comment about Meghan's age and the fact that it's her first child.
Needless to say, her birth plan has underscored some of the stigma that surrounds home births. According to the Office of National Statistics, about 2.1% of people in the U.K. gave birth at home in 2017. That number is lower in the U.S. — ACOG estimates that about 0.9% of births per year in the U.S. occur at home. Home births in America are associated with risks, though the U.S. in general is considered the most dangerous developed country for women to give birth.
In England, however, recent studies have pointed to no significant differences in safety between obstetric units and non-obstetric units for women in low-risk pregnancies.
In any case, when it comes to giving birth, we can all agree that safety is of the utmost importance, no matter how someone is choosing to do so. For all we know, maybe Meghan Markle didn't have a home birth at all. But either way, a room full of the nation's top doctors laughing about a woman's choice of birthing method doesn't exactly sit right.
InStyle has reached out to ACOG for comment.