Homebirth Follow Up–Your Comments

Hi ladies. I have so many comments from you all regarding my homebirth post, that I wasn’t sure where to begin. I am trying to address many of the same general comments, while highlighting a few. So bear with me.

I want to start out by saying I am all about a woman’s choice. So while I may not agree with a homebirth or the thinking behind it, if you want to take the risk, go for it. But my joke about the BYOB-IH (Birth Your Own Baby–In Hospital) wasn’t a true call for a new movement.  I’m about to have a baby, after all. I’ll be up to my eyeballs in burp clothes and diapers. Not petitions.

Also–and I believe more importantly–I’m all about women’s empowerment. I know as women we all get our strength from something. The lyrics, “I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar” come to mind. Amen sisters. Some of you said that you felt like you could do anything once you gave birth naturally. I did not intend to take away that feeling of accomplishment and empowerment from any of your experiences. It’s amazing no matter what, IF you end up with a healthy baby, right?

@Kris said, (in reference to my bio), “Just as many people cannot say that they’ve visited Casablanca or climbed Mt Kilimanjaro, many more cannot say they’ve braved the experience of child birth at home. “

Where I disagree with this comment is the part about being brave enough to homebirth. So you’re saying it really is risky and something that requires “bravery” to have a homebirth, right? I think what many women take from natural childbirth is their ability to tap into their woman-power. And yes, more power to them if that’s where they find it. But I don’t think you can call yourself “brave” because you chose to have a homebirth. Are we going for a medal or a healthy baby? I happen to believe the medical statistics, flawed and all. It’s what we’ve got to work with (as pointed out below) and I feel, at least for me, a homebirth would have been a highly irresponsible choice.

I was glad to hear from those of you who had good experiences in the hospital.

@Ashley G, “I lost a lot of blood and if it wasn’t for the team of doctors and nurses I could not say that we would both be here today. Why have a baby at home? Why risk the life of your child and your own? NOT WORTH IT!!!!!!!”

@Grace S, “While, I do not like hospitals (who does really?) and it was the last place I wanted to be bringing my child in to this world, it was the right place to be.”

Sadly, many people have had bad hospital experiences or they have misconceptions about hospitals and I think they view homebirth as an alternative to giving birth in a hospital. I get wanting a different option. But I just don’t believe homebirth is the safest solution. What is clear is that we need improvements in healthcare. I don’t think anyone would dispute that. But even with my rough labor story, I wouldn’t have done it differently.  Because in the end I got the most amazing baby girl–healthy and happy. If I had had a homebirth, I probably would have had a dead baby or if I was lucky, been rushed to the hospital before tragedy struck. The stakes for me are simply too high.

To @Dr Nancy: Here is a really great article that breaks down the Wax study. The Wax Study is arguably the most comprehensive study done to date that compares and analyzes homebirths and hospital births. In the article mentioned above,  the author states, “Midwives’ groups are already attacking this new study as flawed and politically motivated, but of course they themselves are politically motivated to show the safety of home birth, and their own studies are flawed. Passions run high on both sides of the debate. This study is far from perfect, and it’s certainly not the final answer, but it’s the best we’ve got to go on at the moment.”

I happen to agree. But you can choose to disagree. Remember, I’m pro-choice.

To @serenyd: You commented that you “…don’t think home-birthing is selfish – I felt I protected my baby from unnecessary interventions, uncomfortable standard hospital protocol and nasty germs in the hospital environment and gave them a gentle entrance into the world and wonderful bonding experience in the safety and comfort of home.”

The Wax Study does in fact speak to that and other frightening issues that many of you brought up. And you’re right on track with some of your concerns. I.e.: “Planned home births were associated with fewer maternal interventions including epidural analgesia, electronic fetal heart rate monitoring, episiotomy, and operative delivery. These women were less likely to experience lacerations, hemorrhage, and infections.”

However, even with all that factored in, the bottom line is statistics show that,  “Less medical intervention during planned home birth is associated with a tripling of the neonatal mortality rate.”

I think everyone on both sides of the debate can agree though with the author’s statement:

“We need to develop a better understanding of which interventions are really necessary to save babies’ lives and how to improve the outcome of all deliveries, whether at home or in a hospital.”

I think @Cassandra also said it well.  “…80% of the people I know who wanted a home birth ended up going to the hospital at the last minute because of some complication or another. Like you said: go for a natural birth, if you want… BUT DO IT IN A HOSPITAL! That way, if there’s a problem, someone can help you or your baby!”

I guess I wonder what this argument is really about.  Is it about your birth experience or the ultimate outcome? Studies prove (whether you want to dispute it or not) that overall, a hospital birth—or a birthing center where hospital intervention is right there—is the safest way to go.

Which is more important to you? For me, it’s a no-brainer. Great if you get both a certain “birth experience” and perfect outcome. But I’m not willing to gamble.


Picture of Pregnant Woman via Shutterstock

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  1. by Emily D

    On December 21, 2011 at 9:51 am

    Hadn’t read the original post, but I was in the same boat as @AshleyG. After a relatively easy drug-free birth with our 2nd son, I hemorrhaged. I wound up receiving a spinal, an emergency D&C and 2 units of blood. Watching the recent 20/20 on the Million Moms Challenge reminded me how fortunate I was to be in a hospital that day!

  2. by Ashley

    On December 23, 2011 at 8:55 pm

    I think it IS brave to have a homebirth, and that’s not because it’s risky, but because in doing so you are choosing to take responsibility for all that happens, good and bad. One of the arguments I hear against homebirth is: “who will you blame if something goes wrong?” No one. Why do we need to blame someone? I made the best educated choices I could at the time, and I accepted the outcome of those choices. It’s brave to hold yourself accountable.

    As far as transfers go, it’s GOOD if things take a turn for the worst and you head for the hospital. Ideally, the transfer of care from home to hospital would be as easy in the US as it is in other countries. Besides, the vast majority of transfers are not for dire emergencies (you could ask my CNM’s back-up OB about that), but for things like maternal dehydration and exhaustion due to prolonged labor.

    Even if the Wax meta-analysis is 100% accurate, the absolute risk of giving birth at home or hospital is so low that it’s completely unfair to call homebirth a “highly irresponsible choice.”

    Likewise, it’s unfair to play the “I/my baby would have died if I hadn’t been in the hospital” card because you cannot transpose birth settings in this way–what happened in the hospital may not have happened at home, and what happened at home may not have happened in the hospital.

    I’m not expecting to change your mind, only to point out that someone with such a forum as the one you have through this blog has a responsibility to her readers to speak from a more educated standpoint, instead of just spreading ignorance.

    In the end, I’m very grateful for friends and family members who, like you, choose to birth in the hospital, but recognize that by birthing at home I, too, am doing what I believe to be best for my baby and myself.

    Thank you for following up on this topic!

  3. by Jill Cordes

    On December 24, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    Hi Ashley. I just wanted to say that I really appreciate your thoughtful and well written comment. Thanks for taking the time and for being part of the discussion. You have made some good points and I appreciate it.

    Have a nice holiday. Jill C.

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  15. [...] But what irks me is this instant assumption that if something was practiced “for centuries” and still exists in villages in Africa, that we should use that as an argument for practices today. I spoke before about this in my case against homebirth. [...]