Actually, Home Birth Mothers Still Love Their Kids and Care About Their Safety

Ahhhh.......Home Birth.

Lately there have been a few publicized cases of home birth deaths, most recently the death of a mother in Australia after her home birth.

I have NO IDEA what happened in that instance, so I won't even guess.  In fact, I think it is kind of inappropriate for people to take pot shots at a grieving family just because somebody died.  That is truly rude and totally lacking in both class and compassion, no matter what we think of their life choices.  (Yes, the same goes for hospital deaths or circumcision deaths.  Don't bash people who have dead family members.  It is rude, no matter whose side you are on.)

But every time one of these stories surfaces, not only do people attack the grieving family/woman, but then the commentators come out of the woodwork.  Lots and lots of comments about how, "I don't take chances with my birth, that is why I had my baby in the hospital" or the like.  (You can read some at the end of this little bit on home birth midwives.)

No, I don't want to say, "Home birth is safe" or, "Hospital birth sucks" or anything like that.  But I do want to say this:

Home birth mothers love their babies!  

In response to those who think home birth mamas are reckless, selfish, or uneducated, I would like to say this. 

I love my babies.  I do NOT value the birth experience over their safety. 

I RECOGNIZE that home birth has risks.  I am not blind to them. 

I believe that the risk of home birth can be MINIMIZED by choosing a skilled home birth midwife.

I realize that not all home birth midwives are skilled.  I choose mine carefully. 

I also think that trying my best to stay healthy and low risk can make my home birth safer.

I DON'T think women are uneducated if they choose HOSPITAL BIRTH.  In fact, I had a wonderful, natural hospital birth.  It was a good choice for me at the time.  I totally understand why women make that choice. 

But I do not believe that birthing in the hospital eliminates all risk of giving birth.  In fact, I believe that there is some inherent risk to birth, no matter where it is done. 

I realize too- (and I don't think everybody realizes this) that hospital birth ALSO carries risk.  Those risks, that I took into consideration included-
1) about a 30% C-section rate
2) a very high induction rate (at some hospitals near my home when I had my first out of hospital birth, the induction rates were over 90%)  Don't even get me STARTED on the risks of induction.  Or c-section for that matter.
3) exposure to infection that does not exist in my home
When I choose home birth it wasn't with stars in my eyes about orgasms and candlelight.  It was a choice I made seriously, with care, and which I took responsibility for.  I believe that EVERY woman should take responsibility for her birth, her health, and her care, no matter where she chooses to birth.

I believe that the right to make birth choices is a woman's right.  Since when did feminism stop when we got the right to legal abortion?  In my utopia, female bodily autonomy also applies to my right to birth at home, and your right to VBAC.  Oh yes, it does.  Why don't other people think this?  It boggles my mind.

For the record- babies with wrapped umbilical cords can be delivered safely at home, home birth midwives often carry lifesaving anti-hemorrhage drugs (but they don't need them as often as they are needed in the hospital, because mom isn't pumped full of Pitocin through her labor, nor is heavy traction applied to a still attached placenta immediately postpartum) and YES THEY CAN MONITOR THE BABY!  For goodness sake, they don't show up with a stick for you to bite on and some beads to wave over your head in case something goes wrong. 

Now, rant over.

It is too late.  I should take my own advice and not get offended.

Good night.

Oh, and I love my kids, and their safety is paramount to me, far more important to me than my feelings, my experience, or what Ricky Lake thinks of me. 


kayleigh. said…
Just the rant I needed to hear! THANK YOU.
I had a beautiful home birth (my first child, a son) with my two fantastic, experienced, late twenty something midwives. My labor progressed very fast, started at 2:30am when my water broke, and ended with my beautiful baby boy earth side at 3:30pm the same day. Everything was perfect up until the end - my placenta would not detach from the uterine lining and I was hemorrhaging FAST. Less than 1 minute after my son was born my midwives had my sister on the phone with 911, and 4 minutes after that I was in an ambulance on the way to the hospital 5 minutes from me. I had emergency surgery to remove my placenta, my son was not required to be a hospital patient, my midwives stuck with me through the entire ordeal. I went home the next day. Birth is based on the educated (or uneducated) choices you make. There is risk in any situation. I had the exact birth I wanted, the end was unpredictable, and could have ended tragically. But it didn't. I was aware of what I was trusting my midwives with, I was aware I trusted them, and I was in a location that was SAFE for me in the event something went wrong. Informed decisions are the most important part of any birth. I agree with you 100% Mama Birth!
mamamia said…
I have chosen to have my babies in hospital and as I'm high risk, it works for me.
Every mother-to-be is entitled to have the freedom to choose where she has her baby/babies and who assists her, in my opinion.
It is such a shame that some people use tragedy to point fingers and lay blame where there is none to lay.
My heart goes out to the family who recently lost their mother/wife/daughter.
Jamethiel said…
This is and was exactly the way I felt when I chose-and followed through-having my son at home. The biggest reason I chose to stay home was FOR my son-I believed it was the best way possible to bring him into the world. And so it was-beautiful, safe, loving, warm, with no embarrassment or stress or feeling rushed or pressured into something because of arbitrary rules. I do have enough medical training to know that birthing is not risk free, and to recognize the signs of something going wrong, and to have a plan in place that everyone around me was aware of.
I have a college friend of mine whose baby is due in a few weeks, and I pointed her at this blog during our discussions about home birth, because she was uncomfortable speaking with her and her partner's family about her choice to birth at home. She just passed and became the newest member of her town's EMT squad-if anyone should know the risks involved, it would be her! She said this place helped her think and gave her reassurance in her *educated, well informed and rational* choice!
Mommy Complains said…
Awww...that's my kid!!
Alicia said…
a great post that verbalises fairly what i' dlike to say but always fail because emotions tie my tongue in knots
Tristan said…
Like Kayleigh, this was JUST what I neeed to hear!

After watching a couple of my fb friends (both nurses) moaning about how home birth mothers put their own experience in front of their child's safety and scoffing at mothers who bring their babies in for a transfer if they're having issues postpartum "THEN they want to do what's in the best interest of the baby." Like, do you not want the mother to bring the baby in at all, or...? How is it any different - realizing the signs of trouble at home and sending a child to NICU or realizing the signs of trouble at hospital and sending a child to NICU. Either way, there was someone skilled enough to recognize a problem and address it.

It made me sad and angry reading the things they were saying and this blog post pretty much reinforces what I felt. I understand where their opinions were coming from, but they have misunderstood why people have home births.

As always, thank you MB!
Grace's Mama said…
F yeah!!!

I had one hospital birth (midwife "assisted"...assisted my butt- she showed up in the last 30 minutes of my labor!), AND ONE AWESOME HOME BIRTH.

Like you said, I had no visions of orgasms in my backyard jacuzzi; I thought everything through and was very prepared on my end, and I had an awesome midwife team--they were like my surrogate mother and sister who were there to support me and my choices. I have never been so informed on all of the aspects of my healthcare as I was with my homebirth. In retrospect, my first birth at the hospital was the epitome of everything that I DIDN'T want to happen, and my homebirth was everything that I NEEDED my birth to be. When I think back to my homebirth I feel like a freakin' Amazon! :-)

My wish for all of my friends who are having their first babies is that they would have listened to me when I told them about the differences in my experiences. I am so sad to think that they may be missing out on their "best birth". I just keep on keeping on though and spreading the word about homebirth, and talking about my experiences openly to anyone who will listen.

Great rant MamaBirth!

I agree. For me choosing home birth was not about choosing a candle light fairy tale birth for myself. It was about choosing the easiest, gentlest, safest birth for my baby. Home birth has risks and hospital birth has risks. Babies that die at home may have been saved in the hospital by having access to some sort of care not accessible at home and babies that die in the hospital may have been saved by being at home and not being exposed to the events that led to the death.

What I know is the best for baby is for birth to happen in the place where mom is most capable of having a physiological birth. When mom can easily let her baby out it reduces the chance of interventions and complications. For me the safest place to give birth is at home. Because I am so aware of the horrors that have happened to women in birth in the hospital I am hyper sensitive to it and would not be free to let go and move through labor with peace and calm if I were in that setting. There is no doubt that my first birth would have been an induction and more likely a c-section had I been in the hospital. At home it was a beautiful event free birth, allowing my baby to be born without any interference. You can hear/read her story here