Wednesday, February 13th, 2013
My friend, Holly Pevzner, had a really cool homebirth experience. I’m in awe of her and anyone who chooses this option. Are you pregnant and thinking about it? There’s a brand new book just for you called The Essential Homebirth Guide: For Families Planning or Considering Births at Home. The authors, Jane Drichta, CPM, and Jodilyn Owen, CPM have attended more than one thousand births combined as doulas, midwives and birth educators. Here’s what they have to say about whether homebirth is right for you:
“A quick YouTube search of homebirth and you’ll find them: The dreamy, softly lit videos featuring a gorgeous mother gently breathing her baby out in to the world in her living room, candles glowing, spectators smiling beatifically…you can practically hear the Enya through the computer screen. But that couldn’t be you, could it? You hate yoga, hit the McDonald’s drive through more times than you feel comfortable admitting, and pachulli gives you a migraine.
But hang on. Homebirth is less a state of granola and organic veggies, and more a state active, loving participation in a process. If you value relationships, autonomy and flexibility, this way of birthing might just be for you. Homebirth is not so much about pushing a human being out of your body, although that does certainly occur, but about being respected in your decision making and being treated as an equal during your pregnancy. Midwifery care (most homebirth babies are caught by midwives, either nurses with advanced degrees or highly trained folks who have spent years training and /or passed a rigorous certification exam) embodies this gentle way of birthing.
You can find a midwife in your area by going to http://cfmidwifery.org/ . This consumer led group explains the ins and outs of the midwifery model, and provides a state to state guide for accessing midwifery care.
So all of this sounds wonderful, but is it safe? Are there risks to not being in the hospital for your blessed event surrounded by the latest in technology? There are risks inherent in all births, and it is up to every family to evaluate them individually. In our book The Essential Homebirth Guide, we explain that our minds aren’t actually that great at true risk assessment.
We tend to rely more on stories and anectdotal evidence than studies and numbers. We tend to assign more risk to unfamiliar scenarios than common ones. We are well adapted to dealing with the inherent dangers we face everyday, like driving a car, but less able to parse out meaningful data in situations that occur once or twice in a lifetime, such as having a baby. Just knowing these psychological weaknesses can sometimes be enough. If we recognize our initial emotional response may not be valid, we can then look deeper and search out more sources that we can relate to our individual situations.
There are plenty of studies out there that say a planned homebirth with a trained attendant and good hospital back-up are safe, with fewer interventions and equal or greater positive outcomes when compared to hospital births with the same population. There are an equal number that say it is not. Read them all. Speak to a few midwives and a few doctors. Get both sides of the story. Evaluate what you want in a midwife, how you would like her to be trained, what emergency equipment she may carry that makes you feel safe. Some midwives carry the same medications that are available in a hospital, including Pitocin and oxygen. Some carry herbs and/or homeopathic remedies. Some carry all of the above and some carry nothing but their hand skills and experience. Much of this may depend on your geographic area. There are different laws in different states regarding midwives and their equipment.
In the end, the best expert to decide if homebirthing is right for your family is you. It is a decision that you must come to on your own after gathering in the information you need. The fact is, birth, no matter how you choose to do it, is important. It will affect you. It will change you. It will propel you into motherhood in a profound way and can leave you with feelings of power, health, and peace, or anxiety, fear or trauma. What kind of new mother do you wish to be? How can your birth launch you into parenthood in a positive way? Think about these questions first, and then start building your prenatal care , be it from a homebirth provider, or one who works in a hospital. Then, you have the greatest chance of becoming the mother you intend to be. No Enya required.”
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