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More women choosing at-home births

 January 19, 2023 at 5:00 AM PST

Good Morning, I’m Debbie Cruz….it’s Thursday, January 19th.

Why more women are choosing at-home births. More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….


The Friends of Friendship Park are condemning a new plan for 30-foot walls at the park along the border.

The group says the plans do include a spot where the walls will be lower.

But it says the design proposed by Customs and Border Protection is the worst Friendship Park has ever seen… and that it would desecrate the binational character of the park.

The updated plans do include a gate for pedestrian access.

The original plans didn't.

In a press release, C-B-P says the design meets the border security needs of the area… while also addressing community concerns about access to the park.

Work is expected to begin early this year.


Was your property or small business damaged by stormy weather?

The County Office of Emergency Services is asking for your help in estimating the rain and flood damage caused by recent storms.

If you experienced damage between December 29th and this week, the county is asking you to complete a survey form.

The data will be used to estimate total damages throughout San Diego County, to determine if there was enough to qualify the region for disaster assistance.

You can visit s-d-county-recovery-dot-com for more information.


The rainy weather is making its way back today, but it will be light..

The National Weather Service says it’s expected this afternoon and through the evening.

Make sure to bundle up, because temps will be in the 60s during the day and in the 40s at night.

It will also be windy throughout the day, with gusts as high as 20 miles per hour.


From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now. Stay with me for more of the local news you need.


Some women give birth outside the hospital by accident— their babies come too quickly and they don’t make it in on time.

But a growing number now plan to have a home birth with a certified midwife.

KPBS reporter Claire Trageser says, the number has shot up since the beginning of the pandemic.

It’s a warm afternoon and Emily is cuddled up on the couch with her baby Willow. She remembers how excited she was in early 2022 when she found out she was pregnant. But she was a lot less excited about the idea of giving birth in a hospital, especially during COVID. “There might be restrictions on how many people can come in, and you probably have to wear a mask.” Emily asked to be identified by only her first name for privacy. She says COVID restrictions led her to think about alternatives. She wanted to avoid the medical interventions that can come in a hospital. Then she had an unsettling prenatal appointment. I said that my goal was to have an unmedicated birth, she kind of chuckled a little bit and she said, a lot of women come in saying that, but they end up getting an epidural. That was when Emily made up her mind. She would hire a midwife and give birth at home. Home Births in San Diego County San Diego County Office of Vital Records and Statistics Since the onset of the pandemic in early 2020,  the number of home births has climbed dramatically, both nationally and in San Diego County. Countywide, the number rose by 28% from before COVID to the end of 2022. Midwives legally can oversee births without doctor supervision. And usually bring medical tools. Including oxygen tanks, suturing kits and medication for hemorrhaging. Despite the growing popularity of home births, medical experts still say a hospital by far is the safest place to have a baby. Here’s Dr. Alice Sutton, an OBGYN at UC San Diego. “There are some complications with birth that we just can't predict in advance.” Emily says she considered the possibility of complications, but felt safe because she lives only five minutes away from a hospital. Sutton says 5 minutes can be too long. “It takes time to get in the ambulance and get transferred to the hospital, and time can mean more time that someone is bleeding.” She says the biggest risk is the baby could die during labor or after delivery. Research shows that up to a third of women attempting home births end up going to the hospital. But the most common reason isn’t a dangerous complication. It’s because the mother is exhausted.  Her labor has gone on too long and she needs relief from an epidural or other pain medication. Licensed midwife Heather LeMaster has seen her business boom during the pandemic. “It's been instrumental for families to really stop and go, wait a minute, I have other options. There's a variety of places that I can have my baby.” LeMaster charges $6,800 for a home birth, and $2,000 more if a woman wants to come to her birth center. Insurance usually doesn’t cover the cost. She says for home births, she involves the whole family as much as possible. Including what she calls catching the baby the moment it’s born. “Either the partners will catch the baby or if there's little siblings or maybe a little bit teenagers, sometimes they want to catch their sibling and so I kind of help facilitate that as well. There's just an empowerment that comes from that, that words can't describe.” When Emily’s labor started, she alerted her midwife. She was in for a long haul—37 hours of labor. “It was very painful, way more painful than I was anticipating.” She was able to push through the pain and remain at home. She created a soothing environment with scented candles, soft lighting and Christian worship music. “And by the time we had her at three in the morning, I'd been pushing for 4 hours, which is intense, but it was perfect.” Her daughter Willow is now three months old and thriving. And Emily is grateful that from the first moments she and Willow were able to bond at home. CT KPBS News.


The city of San Diego’s ambulance provider, Falck, is still not meeting expectations.

Now city officials are preparing to take more control over the local 9-1-1 system.

KPBS Health reporter Matt Hoffman has more.

An update to the city council’s public safety committee Wednesday shows Falck continues falling short of staffing goals.. It impacts response times and puts a heavier burden on existing staff.. San Diego Fire-Rescue is working to amend Falck’s contract to fix the shortcomings.. That move could bring on another ambulance company and those plans are set to be presented next month. Falck’s managing director Jeff Behm says right now their system is 32 paramedics short. It is more than that in terms of the number when you look at issuing and approving PTO, managing the system for callouts and any type of leave of absence or injury on the job Falck introduced a 50-thousand dollar sign-on bonus late last year and they say so far it's helped recruit 24 new paramedics, but around 20 existing staff left during the same time period. MH KPBS News.


San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria is in Washington D-C for a conference with other mayors from across the country.

KPBS reporter Jacob Aere says Gloria was at the forefront on several topics.

The winter meeting of the U-S Conference of Mayors drew more than 250 mayors from major cities across the U.S…. including Todd Gloria of San Diego. Part of his agenda included a discussion on hate and extremism. “I'm mayor of the eighth largest city in this country, one of the safest big cities in the nation. Last year our overall crime rate fell 7.5 percent, our violent crime rate went down 13 percent and yet our hate crimes went up 65 percent.” Gloria also discussed solutions to reduce homelessness, and moderated a session on the influx of migrants to cities like San Diego. The meeting runs through Friday, when the mayors are set to meet with President Joe Biden and his top staff at the White House. Jacob Aere, KPBS News.

Gloria will also be moderating a discussion today about the conference's L-G-B-T-Q Alliance, that he chairs.


Coming up.... We have details on a new play premiering in San Diego this weekend. We’ll have that story and more, just after the break.


A recent study from the U-C-S-D School of Global Policy and Strategy suggests that salary transparency can lead organizations to close their gender wage gaps.

The study looked at how Canadian universities responded to mandated transparency laws.

It found that the salaries of female workers were improved by four-percent as a result.

Elizabeth Lyons is a co-author of the study.

"We’re seeing that, in response to salary transparency mandated by the government, organizations are actively reducing gender pay gaps in ways that we think are consistent with reputation management.”

The study comes as a new state law goes into effect. It requires employers to disclose pay scales in job postings.

On average, women earn roughly 83-percent of what their male counterparts make.

The increase to the minimum wage in San Diego at the beginning of the month is leading one small business owner to consider automating some of the work to save money.

KPBS reporter Claire Strong went to meet her.

Meghan Smith owns Batch and Box Signature Cookies in Carmel Valley. She opened the store right in the middle of the pandemic and although times were challenging then, Meghan says the new minimum wage in San Diego - which as of January 1st now stands at $16 dollars and 30 cents per hour - may force her reconsider staffing decisions. “ My husband is actually a mechanical engineer and has a master’s in robotics and so he’s working really hard to on how to automate a lot of our processes, particularly how we roll dough balls, how we package things so that we don’t have to rely on labor so much”. And it’s not just payroll which is keeping Meghan up at night. Higher prices for electricity and eggs have contributed to her costs increasing by 20 percent, which means customers now have to pay a little more for their cookies -  something Meghan hopes they’ll understand. Claire Strong, KPBS News.


Loud Fridge Theatre Group staged one play in 20-19 before the pandemic sidelined the young company.

But this week, it kicks off its first of three plays for the season, with the San Diego premiere of ‘Ripped.”

It’s about a campus sexual assault.

KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando speaks with the cast and crew about the challenges of exploring the gray areas of consent.

And a note of warning: the conversation will include mentions of sexual assault and consent.

Back in 2019, John Wells had no idea what to call his new theater company. JOHN WELLS  There was a refrigerator buzzing in a different room. And I remember thinking, Loud Fridge Theater Group. That's a name that will get people's attention And it reflected the fact that he wanted to be a constant noise in the community. JOHN WELLS We wanted to be a theater group that nourished our community, that made noise and elevated voices that had a history of being denied a platform. Now Loud Fridge launches its first full season with Ripped written by former San Diegan Rachel Bublitz. Loud Fridge co-founder Kate Rose Reynolds discovered the play in 2017. KATE ROSE REYNOLDS It deals with a campus sexual assault. This play is sometimes funny, sometimes charming, sometimes very uncomfortable, but it's going to leave you talking and it's going to leave people with something to think about. And then we thought that was a great calling card for us to start our first season with. Wells says this is the perfect time to raise such issues. JOHN WELLS Especially with the conversations that are going on about sexual assault on college campuses here in San Diego. I think that now is the time to really start talking about what consent means. The play jumps back and forth in time as Lucy re-examines her experiences with two men she trusted: her ex-boyfriend back home and a guy she meets at college. So Gerard and I finally slept together… he said it was great but what if something happened… Reynolds says the play serves up something of a mystery. KATE ROSE REYNOLDS … So I hope that people get caught up in it and sort of fall into this whirlwind of Lucy's experience and because of that identification with her experience develop empathy for everyone in the show to see a lot of different perspectives. One of those perspectives comes from Gerard, the Berkeley student played by Marcel Ferrin who sees him as a nice guy. MARCEL FERRIN Knowing that I was once 19 and would get into partying and drinking. And that's when your decision making process kind of goes out the window and your young hormonal teenager. Things happen in the play, blurred boundaries and he ends up in a pretty bad predicament. But I feel for the character. That’s because Ripped doesn’t want to define anything in black and white terms, says Reynolds. KATE ROSE REYNOLDS You so rarely get to see a piece of theater that is so nuanced and so comfortable living in the gray area and so comfortable asking questions and not giving the audience an answer. Not giving anyone kind of a clear way out, but just forcing you to think about where you stand and what you believe and forcing people to talk about these things. Amira Temple plays Lucy. She says consent is a conversation to have especially for young people. AMIRA TEMPLE So you don't put yourself in a situation where you have been or have assaulted someone and you just didn't really understand the bounds of what that looks like. In order to tackle these issues Loud Fridge had to address them as a theater company so it hired intimacy director Kandace Crystal. She helped actor Devin Wade navigate sensitive scenes by thinking of the action as choreography. DEVIN WADE  If we can choreograph this much similar to a dance, we're very comfortable with the movements. We know what to expect, when to expect it. AMIRA TEMPLE  It makes it so that it's all repeatable actions. Again Amira Temple. AMIRA TEMPLE So there's no surprises on stage. My scene partners are never going to just pull something out of the bag and tell me afterwards. I thought it would be fun, Temple hopes that people will come to the show with an open mind. AMIRA TEMPLE And leave with an even more open mind. Don't judge yourself or us too harshly. It'll definitely leave you with a lot of questions, so be ready for that. And be ready for more provocative theater as Loud Fridge has two shows waiting in the wings to make more noise. Beth Accomando KPBS News.

Loud Fridge Theater Group’s ‘Ripped’ begins performances this Saturday at OnStage Playhouse in Chula Vista.


That’s it for the podcast today. As always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. I’m Debbie Cruz. Thanks for listening and have a great day.

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The number of women choosing to give birth at home has been steadily rising. In other news, the city of San Diego’s ambulance provider, Falck, is still not meeting expectations. Plus, the San Diego premiere of the play “Ripped” kicks off this weekend.