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A Piece of My Mind
May 1, 2013

What Is Natural?

Author Affiliations

A Piece of My Mind Section Editor: Roxanne K. Young, Associate Senior Editor.

Author Affiliation: Department of Pediatrics, University of California, San Francisco (

JAMA. 2013;309(17):1783-1784. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.205105

“There's a home birth rolling into the emergency department,” droned the overhead paging system. I went downstairs from the Intensive Care Nursery, where I was the resident, to see our newest patient. The baby was a little under 24 hours old and had been born at home with the help of a midwife. When the midwife returned the next morning, she found the baby breathing too quickly for a normal newborn and convinced the parents to bring the infant to the hospital. When I arrived in the emergency department, I was instantly confronted by angry parents. They had intended for their child to come into this world naturally, at home, with lots of love and breast milk, and now their brand new baby was covered in wires and being filled with intravenous fluids and antibiotics in a sterile hospital room. This was not natural.

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