Tuesday, December 20th, 2011
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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Tuesday, December 13th, 2011
Enlighten me: what is with the home birth movement? I don’t get it.
With my own baby coming out in about 6 weeks, I started to think about the whole birthing thing again. Then a friend sent me this article and I just kind of started to get annoyed with the homebirth thing, and got on a roll…err, maybe I should say rant. I’m sure many people will be offended by my thoughts. But again, I’m just trying to understand: why would anyone want to do this?
I mean, home birth seems incredibly risky to do and even selfish on part of the mom. Why would you put your baby (and yourself) in harm’s way all so that you can have this “experience”? And what is this “experience?” The ambiance of giving birth in a four-poster bed? In your home? Your bed is for sleeping, sex, and relaxation. Not birth. Ambiance is reserved for romantic restaurants, rustic cabins with fireplaces, a bottle of wine, and intimate conversation. But creating an “ambiance” for birthing a baby out of your vag? Complete with poop, goo, screaming, and unheard of pain? Not to mention the mess that looks like a murder scene in your house? Seriously, explain to me: what is the point?
If you want to do it natural, meaning no drugs, (which I can understand a little more) we have beautiful birthing centers throughout this country along with some of the best medical care there is. Why would you NOT want that? Birth is 24-48 hours of your life…and can be life-threatening. Even the best-equipped midwives can’t possibly bring all of the sophisticated monitoring equipment to your home that doctors have at their disposal in the hospital. And what’s so bad about a hospital bed and doctors and nurses at your beck and call anyway? For the next 18 years you are going to be at your child’s beck and call. Take the 2-3 days and enjoy it.
When I was pregnant with Fia, I went to yoga classes constantly. For 9 months I heard the women, the doulas, you name it, talk about how all the drugs you take during labor get into the babies system (even though there is no medical proof—and it has been studied), makes them groggy, and often makes unable to latch on. And that having a C-section can prevent mother-baby bonding.
My birth story started with the idea of trying to hack it natural…then it all went to hell. Not only did I have an epidural, but I also had barbiturates for my C-section, Percocet for my pain, and an incredibly trying emotional and physical toll felt in every bone of my body. Fia came out alert and latched on instantly. And from the moment I saw her, we were deeply and indescribably connected. As relieved as I was, I felt a little “had” by the natural birth community. Nothing they said would happen did. But what did happen is I had a healthy, happy baby. If it weren’t for the excellent doctors (who did all they could to try and give me a vaginal birth) I could have ended up with a dead baby.
I also want to point out that if I hadn’t had the epidural and been able to sleep/relax, I wouldn’t have had the strength to push for those 2 hours. Even though Fia never dropped or rotated, at least I had it in me to give it my best shot.
But let’s step away from those facts and look at the facts of third world births. According to Unicef, a woman in sub-Saharan Africa has a 1 in 16 chance of dying in pregnancy or childbirth, compared to a 1 in 4,000 risk in a developed country. The site goes on to explain that most of these deaths and disabilities are preventable, being mainly due to “insufficient care during pregnancy and delivery.”
Okay, so if you take care of yourself and are low-risk, then maybe home birth isn’t as dangerous. However, they state “…About 15 percent of pregnancies and childbirths need emergency obstetric care because of complications that are difficult to predict.” This is the part that scares me most. Like I said in my birth story, no one predicted Fia wouldn’t rotate into the birth canal. She simply didn’t and got stuck above my pelvic bone. If you’re with a doctor, nurse, or midwife at a birthing center, you at least have supervision and immediate access to proper equipment and supplies. That includes lifesaving drugs, antibiotics and transfusions–and the ability to perform C-sections and other surgical interventions.
This site has stats from the CDC, which state: “Homebirth increases the risk of neonatal death to double or triple the neonatal death rate at hospital birth.”
Like many of you, I watched the Ricki Lake movie, The Business of Being Born. I’ll admit, I thought the birthing methods of earlier generations, where mothers were drugged out, seemed barbaric. I would never think that way would be beneficial to anyone. How do you push when you’re unconscious? Other than that though, the movie really irked me. Even her producer ended up in the hospital—and thank god—or she could have had a tragic outcome.
I know doctors make mistakes. I know neonatal care can be improved. Hospitals are petri dishes. And far from perfect. But none of that outweighs the risks of a homebirth. In my, ahem, humble opinion.
If you must experience natural childbirth, for god’s sakes…and your baby’s…do it in a hospital—or a birthing center connected to one. I’d like to start the anti-home birth movement today. Call it BYOB IH– Birth Your Own Baby In Hospital!
Moms, Dads, Doula’s, Midwives, Doctors: What do you think?
Sketch of Mom and Baby via Shutterstock.com
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