Jessa Duggar's Home Birth Wasn't a Failure Because She Ended Up in the Hospital

The reality TV star's home birth didn't go as planned, but that doesn't mean it was dangerous.
jessaseewald/Instagram

Jessa Duggar gave birth to a baby boy at home on November 5. According to reports, shortly after giving birth her mother, Michelle Duggar, placed a 911 call because Jessa was bleeding heavily. The new mom was transferred by ambulance to the hospital and both mom and baby are doing fine now.

Headlines would have you believe this was an incredibly risky and dangerous home birth:

Jessa Duggar Rushed to Hospital During Childbirth

Jessa Duggar 'Nearly Killed' by Home Birth

Jessa Duggar Son's Name Still Undecided After Dangerous, Bloody Home Birth

But, from all accounts this sounds like a home birth where a complication arose and was dealt with in a responsible way as to not endanger the mother or baby. Part of planning a home birth is planning for an emergency. Whether you give birth at home or a hospital, complications can arise and you need to be prepared. If you're planning a home birth, your attending midwife will bring oxygen for the baby, medications, and other "in case of emergency" gear. You'll also have a transfer plan to a hospital if it becomes necessary.

Michelle Duggar has certainly seen her share of births, and her 911 call isn't frantic. She tells the 911 dispatcher that "mother is bleeding after birth. We need her to be checked out." She details how much blood has been lost and the condition of Jessa's uterus.

I'm not a doctor (nor do I play one on TV), but Jessa's complication sounds similar to the one I experienced after my home birth. Postpartum hemorrhage is defined as the loss of more than 500mL of blood after birth. It usually occurs after the placenta is delivered. One risk factor for postpartum hemorrhage is the excessive enlargement of the uterus due to a big baby. Jessa's baby was 9 pounds, 11 ounces. Mine was 11 pounds. In my case, the midwife worked to stop the bleeding—first with manual uterine massage, then with Pitocin when the massage didn't work. Luckily, the Pitocin stopped my bleeding and then the midwife monitored me for several hours to make sure there weren't any further complications from the blood loss. Had the drug not worked, we would have called an ambulance. It wouldn't have been the home birth I'd dreamed of, but it would have been a safe one. 

Tracy Odell is General Manager of Parents Digital and the mom of two boys, one born in the hospital and the other at home.

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