Posted by: Zsuzsanna | April 3, 2008

The benefits of home birth

So I had my first prenatal today (other than having met with the midwife at a consultation to introduce her to my husband and make sure he was comfortable with her). It was nice because I got to hear the baby’s heartbeat. I also found out that my extreme fatigue lately has been caused by anemia, something I get at some point with every pregnancy. I am very happy with the midwife I found after the one who attended Miriam’s birth moved to Mexico a few months ago.
Having a homebirth midwife is entirely different from having an OB/GYN. For one, when you get to the appointment, the midwife is waiting for you rather than the other way around. An appointment takes 30-60 minutes, but I have had some that lasted longer than that if we were in a chatting mood. Over the course of the pregnancy, the midwife becomes a close and trusted friend, rather than an intimidating medical professional. The midwife considers it an honor to be invited to attend the birth, rather than making the mother feel that a healthy birth is only possible if the parents relinquish all medical authority to the omniscient physician.

Many studies have been conducted on the safety of home vs. hospital birth. If you follow this link you can find a conclusive list of all those studies and read the results for yourself. Personally, I have never understood the typical American mentality that doctors are all wonderful and great. This may very well stem from the national health care that I grew up with in Communist Hungary as a child, and the terrible care I received there. Which, by the way, is exactly where we are headed in this country. Anyone in favor of government health care should talk to members of the military and find out how well they like the care they are provided by Uncle Sam.

Anyway, after our first child was born in the hospital, I wasn’t too keen on going back there with our second. My plans for a home birth were met by a lot of skepticism by both my husband and his family. My husband was afraid I would bleed to death, since I had hemorrhaged at the hospital. His family made it pretty clear that they thought it would be my fault if the baby died during a home birth. Like doing what women have done for hundreds, yea thousands of years had suddenly become a risky undertaking because a bunch of male doctors in the 19th century decided that all women should disrobe in front of them rather than another woman in order to have a baby. Well, I am happy to report that my husband has been nothing short of a homebirth activist since our 2nd child was born at home, as were 2 more children after that. I am fairly confident that 2 of those 3 births would have ended in a C-section had I given birth at the hospital. I am not at all saying that moms who have a C-section are bad moms, but I just prefer not to undergo such a major surgery unless it is really necessary.

But safety concerns aside, a birth at home is also much more enjoyable. No more wondering whether it is time to go to the hospital, and being worried about getting turned away. You can eat and drink whatever you want. You are in a comfortable, familiar environment. No interns are popping their head in your room every few minutes. No fighting with them that no, they can’t do an internal exam on you, especially not all these men. Did you know that they have to get a certain number of each procedure done in order to complete their internship? You can relax in the comfort of a birthing pool rather than putting drugs in your and the baby’s system by way of an epidural. Something I consider recreational drug use, since it is in no way medically necessary unless you are having a C-section.

During labor, the midwife is hanging out with the family, maybe knitting a hat for the new baby or telling funny stories from other births. She may be cooking a meal to eat after the birth or brewing some tea to bring on the mom’s milk. When labor is getting hard, she is there to encourage rather than supervise.

After the birth, the baby never leaves your side. No warming bassinet, shots, blood tests, eye drops etc. The baby is measured and weighed on the bed next to mom and dad, once they have all had a chance to get to know each other. The midwife will then “clean up the mess”, which is actually not much at all, and tuck mom and baby into the freshly made bed. Siblings can meet their new brother or sister almost immediately after the birth. The whole atmosphere is very quiet and relaxed. No flashing diodes, beeping monitors, bright floodlights etc. Recovery is much easier and faster, too.

If you are pregnant or hoping to get pregnant, you should definitely look into home birth as a safe alternative to a hospital birth.

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Responses

  1. You are right on track about male gynecologists. I cannot believe that they exist. Home births are certainly nice. It’s nice that you can relax with a midwife and don’t feel pressure. Sometimes, hospital rooms are depressing. There are a few women who require c sections unfortunately. For those women, only female gynecologists should do the c sectons. I think it’s terrible that male interns do internal exams on women who they are not married to.

    I am glad that you found a good midwife. It’s nice that she can be a good friend to you.

    Misty

  2. I am glad you are finding someone you can be comfortable with! ~ JAsmine

  3. I followed your rules. I didn’t link to a web site, and I chose the “anonymous” method of commenting. My comment was even on topic and relevant.

    Do you not approve comments of people who disagree with you?

  4. Kudos to you for having 3 home births. I don’t know exactly how I feel regarding this topic because it has it’s pros and cons as does having a baby in a hospital. My first child I had with no medication and it was so painful that I have completely blocked the birth of my son. I just don’t remember it. My second son I had an epidural with my second and I remember every moment of that birth.

    now I don’t know if it was a different environment I might have had a better experience with my first. I did during that pregnancy check out a birthing house near my hospital and my doctor basically talked me out of it. Maybe I’ll try that next time:-))

    My concern is if something went wrong and you needed medical attention. I have a friend who nearly died giving birth and was in the hospital for 4 months. It was scary for her. Plus all her children (she has 5) had to be by C-Section. Back in the day women would have simply died in that same situation.

    Again, that is so wonderful and it’s great hearing about your experiences with home birth. Never hurts to be educated on things you are unfamiliar with.

    BTW, where are your children when you are giving birth/in labor? Do you have someone watch them and then bring them when you gave birth?

    God Bless,
    Christine

  5. In response to the second from last comment:

    1. Yes, I do pick and choose which comments to post. Usually, inappropriate comments are not published. Comments that are off topic and criticize my husband’s preaching also get rejected.

    2. But no, I did not reject your previous comment. At least not as far as I know. The only comment on this post that got rejected was not posted anonymously, but rather with someone’s profile, including their website. They said that the content on their website was “mostly rated G or PG”. I didn’t bother to check it out and rejected the comment out of principle.

  6. Christine,

    Good questions! I certainly do not oppose medical treatment when it becomes necessary. I just don’t think that every pregnancy is automatically a pathological case of severe illness. I certainly would transfer to the hospital if it became medically necessary. Obviously, I live within 10 minutes from a hospital here in Phoenix, but someone who doesn’t could go to a birth center near a hospital.

    A birth center is really like a home birth at someone else’s house. It is a good option if you can’t find a good midwife in your area.

    As to where the other kids are: with the first home birth, our oldest was spending the night at relatives’ house, which we later very much regretted after we found out that said couple was in the middle of a divorce and spent hours that night screaming at each other. Not only was that perturbing to our son, but he also had never spent a night away from home (he was only 16 months old), and he went from being an only child to being an older child. The whole experience must have been very traumatic for him.

    At the second home birth, the kids were sleeping because it was at night, except for the youngest who was not quite 2 at the time. He was up for a couple of hours and I let him play in the birth tub, while I was still fully clothed. The hot water made him nice and sleepy and he fell back asleep after giving me back rubs and splashing water on me. It was very quiet and relaxed. We woke the kids up after the baby was born and I was covered up again.

    At the third home birth, the kids were playing in their room while a friend of mine was watching them. My husband would also go check on them on and off. The whole thing went pretty quick, and again we brought them in once I was reasonably covered again.

    For this next home birth, I plan on doing the same thing, except my friend won’t be able to come over and help now that she has a baby herself. Our oldest is very good at taking care of his younger siblings, and my husband can go deal with them too if he has to since I will have the midwife and her assistant for my support.

    Hope that answers all your questions!

  7. Dear Mrs Susanna
    Thank you so much for writing in your blog, you have no idea how much I look foward to see what you wrote next it is always exiting, Thanks agian

    Iris Edwards

  8. I just wanted to add more comments. I am glad that you are able to give birth to your babies at home. Unfortunately, there are some women who must have their babies at the hospital due to complications. Some women must have c sections. I want to encourage you to tell all women who may have to undergone c section to be sure that they request for an all female operating room staff including the anesthiologist and that they want no men in the room except for their husband. The good news is I noticed that there are many female gynecologists in Phoenix. I think that every woman should have an emergency plan in case a serious complication happens at home. I think as a part of the emergency plan, they should make sure that they would only be treated by a female gynecologist. Male gynecologists have no business practicing. I’m grateful that your husband preached against male gynecologists. He understands that they are not morally above other men.

    Misty

  9. Misty,

    Thank you so much for your comment. I couldn’t agree more. In fact, when I picked my midwife I made sure that her backup physician (in case I needed to transfer to the hospital) was a lady from an office staffed exclusively by ladies. There is always time at the hospital to ask for no male nurses/staff/interns/anesthesiologists etc.

    I also agree that in rare cases, medical intervention is necessary. Like most midwives will tell you, the rate of medically necessary C-sections is about 3%, as opposed to the 30% that are currently being carried out. Many problems that arise at the hospital and need serious medical intervention would never even occur in the first place at home.


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