Thursday, March 10, 2011

Home Birth

I understand that home birth is a controversial topic. As Americans we have the widely held belief that childbirth is extremely dangerous and that medical doctors are the only ones qualified to deliver babies. Beliefs doctors hold and are all too happy to have us believe (their livelihoods depend upon it).
"The obstetric tale goes like this: Birth is a risky business. Up to the early 1900's, many women and babies died in childbirth. Then doctors took over maternity care from ill-trained and ignorant midwives, and childbirth moved into the hospital. As a result, maternal and infant death rates plummeted, and today almost everybody lives healthily and happily ever after thanks to the skills of obstetricians and the superior resources available in hospitals.
The only problem with this story is it isn't true.
First, death rates did not decline as birth began to move into the hospital and under the control of physicians. They rose. In the 1920s in the United States, middle-class women began having babies in hospitals with physician attendants. By the mid-1920s, half of urban births took place there, and by 1939, half of all women and three-quarters of urban women, gave birth in hospitals. In 1915, prior to the major changeover, 60 mothers died per 10,000 births. Despite the shift, the 1932 U.S. maternal mortality rate reached 63 deaths per 10,000 births, and in cities, where hospitalization for birth was more common, it stood at 74 deaths per 10,000 births, substantially worse than the overall rate. Meanwhile, between 1915 and 1929, as the shift in birth site and attendant occurred, infant deaths from birth injuries increased by 40 to 50 percent.
Maternal mortality in the United States did not begin to fall until the late 1930s . . . Many factors contributed to reducing maternal deaths, including better living conditions and nutrition, child spacing, and the development of blood transfusions, but moving birth into the hospital and under doctor control was not one of them.
In fact, several studies suggest that the doctor takeover and institutionalization of birth actually retarded improvements in mortality rates." - Excerpt from "The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth"
And these are just a few of the statistic. We live in a country where women spend more time researching what kind of a camera to buy, than they do researching where and how to give birth. So after two heavily medicated hospital births I finally got around to doing my research and was compelled to do things differently, for my safety and that of my baby. And in the event of a legitimate emergency I willingly would have went to the hospital. That's what hospitals are for: medical emergencies. Birth however is a natural process, not a medical emergency! Sure you hear home birth horror stories, but I have heard far more hospital horror stories and they are usually caused by some hospital intervention meant to prevent something horrific -- very ironic. And yes, true emergencies do occasionally occur, but far less often than you'd think and sadly most of them could be prevented with the right know-how. Knowledge that is being lost because medical doctors don't learn the information in medical school.
So call me crazy, but until you've actually read the facts you're likely to fall victim to the plethora of misinformation out there as I did (twice!).
Knowledge is power so do your homework. And don't assume that just because "everybody is doing it" makes it your best option. And try not to judge others (as I used to) until you have ALL the FACTS.

A few resources to start with:
Watch: "The Business of Being Born" (I've heard you can view it for free on Netflix.)
Read: "The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth" by Henci Goer
"Ina May's Guide to Childbirth" by Ina May Gaskin


Jenny said...

I'm not against home birth. I think it is a decision you have to make for yourself and if you're comfortable with it then you can roll your eyes at all the haters.

I am grateful for advances in medicine however, or I would have probably been one of the statistics. Holden was in the NICU for seven days due to an infection that was caused from me walking around with a leaky bag of waters. My first conversation with my pediatrician was about how it was good they caught it or he would be dead. That's why I would be scared to have a baby at home. I know mid-wives bring O2 and they would check for that, but it still scares me. I wasn't induced, it was just some fluky thing. We were both on some heavy antibiotics for a few days. Luckily everything turned out fine.

I do think a home birth would be kind of awesome though. So no judgment here.

Henry Family said...

Tamber, I think it's wonderful that you had such a beautiful experience with an at-home birth.
If I could do it all over again I would definitely consult with a mid-wife and doula and try for a home birth, but what's done is done. I am grateful to have each one of my healthy, happy children no matter where or how they came into this world.

Congratulations on your new bundle of joy!

Jamie said...

tamber, you know i think you're awesome!!! i love your passion and fierceness for this subject. for me it's never been an option. i'm a c-section only lady and a big wimp. you did it! and you can be proud of that and your beautiful baby.

kates said...

My Mom always said that if she wasn't at the hospital when delivering her second baby, he would have died. I don't know what the problem was--nobody ever figured it out. People have things like that happen (as did Jenny who posted here did) and think that home birth is too scary. What they don't get to see, since this information is not available, is that conventional thinking is likely what causes the problem to begin. i.e. now I know that a leaky bag of waters is caused by low levels of vitamin C and too much bacteria being introduced to the bag of waters by physicians "checking" you all the time before delivery. Fix that, and birth could go off without a hitch. I don't blame anyone for this, as we are all victims now in this age of misinformed doctors. It's just sad that it has to happen that way and that the scary stories get in the way of finding the truth.

MC said...

To be honest you/this makes me seriously considering doing a home birth. I know my man friend might need more convincing but I've honestly never loved my hospital experience and getting induced all the time really sucks! Thank you for the information and being so dang inspiring and amazing!