thoughts on homebirth from the perspective of a hopeful infertility survivor and mother

January 21, 2008 at 10:21 pm 7 comments

I’m fairly soft spoken when it comes to most things in life but when it comes to this subject, i am passionate and unapologetic. I will preface this by saying I am a mother who has experienced a high risk pregnancy and two years of infertility. Both of which make me feel damn lucky to have a child, period. Damn fortunate to have been given the blessing of pregnancy and a healthy child. And to have bounced back myself, healthwise, from a scary birth experience that in another day and age, would have cost me and my child our lives. The fact that I delivered my son by emergency c-section under general anesthetic doesn’t exactly list high on my Best Experiences Ever list. But we both made it home ok and at the end of the day, that’s all I can ask for. And I know a lot of women who have struggled with infertility and won the fight with a pregnancy to term would do the same because these children are hard fought miracles and we aren’t prepared to risk that for anything.

 But I also know that the majority of women have uncomplicated pregnancies. And the majority of women could birth at home with a midwife and do just fine. They could have that “birth experience” they dreamt about, candles, soft music, undisturbed labouring, the whole works. But what happens when you choose homebirth and something goes horribly wrong? What happens when you are one of the small percentage of women who has an emergency situation without the help required at home to save you and your child? I’ll tell you what happens… either you get really damn lucky by the grace of God, or your child dies. Because you aren’t in a place where the medicine, the tools, or the skills required are there to save your baby. I know too many unlucky women who have birthed children at home only to have one of these emergency situations occur and it was too late to transport the child, or it took too long, and it was TOO LATE. Shoulder dystocia, breech, footling, cord wrapped around the neck, meconium in the lungs, preeclampsia, hemouraging, these are just a few examples of what can happen without sufficient warning or proper care. Then what? You have put yourself in a position of vulnerability to these situations and often dire outcomes that you will live to regret the rest of your life. Now here comes my position on this. A child is a gift from God. A true miracle. And birthing a child is inherently dangerous. Women all over the world, and their babies, for as old as time have been dying in childbirth because so many things can go wrong in an instant and the medical intervention isn’t available to circumvent a disaster. We are so lucky to have the hospitals and medicine and doctors that we do in this first world country (mine being Canada) and sure, there are flaws in the system and things could be safer in the hospital, I will give you that, but why RISK the life of your child because of an “experience” that you want to have? A hospital birth is not the least bit se.xy, or private, or romantic, or any of those dreamy notions. But its a lot safer than doing it at home. And at the end of the day – the most important thing is NOT the “experience” – it’s a healthy LIVE child and mother. Period. Anyone that takes the risk of a home birth, in my opinion, is selfish and foolish. I know home birth advocates would say the hospital is dangerous and babies die in hospitals too. But the statistics simply aren’t there to support that argument.

I may get some flack for this post, but honestly I don’t care. I’ve done loads of reading on the subject, both for and against home birth, and I’ve seen too many babies die to think any differently. Don’t even get me started on unassisted homebirth (where the mother births alone without the aid of any type of caregiver, midwife or doula). You want to take risks in your life? Go bungee jumping, sky dive, risk your own life any which way you choose. But don’t risk a baby’s life while you are at it. I guarrantee you, that decision will haunt you for the rest of your days if you end up in the small percentage of women who’s babies weren’t so lucky. And I know more mothers than I can count on one hand that would take back that decision in a heartbeat if it meant saving their child’s life by giving birth in a hospital.

What I would like to see is a middle ground for mothers in a hospital setting. A birthing room that is more like home. Where the mother is able to make choices like having the baby on her chest immediately after birth if everything is looking good for the baby… no taking the baby away for weighing and cleaning up. Giving the mother more authority over her birth experience without compromising the safety of her or her child. Because in most situations, things go smoothly and there’s lots of room for flexibility. But in the cases that things go wrong … you are in the safest place to be saved.

That is all. I’m hopping off my soapbox now. Back to regular scheduled programming next time… 4 dpo! Cycle 18 in the quest to produce another child and birthing any way that is necessary to bring my baby safely home. Put me in a dark cave with pins stuck in my eyes and heavy metal music blaring in the headphones… doesn’t matter as long as my baby comes home with me.

So how do you feel?

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no luck. the odd kid out

7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. canape  |  January 22, 2008 at 4:00 am

    The “just in case something happens” is exactly why we will be going to the hospital. Because more than a specific birth experience, I just want to bring home the child I’ve waited so incredibly long for – healthy and safe.

    And for the record? I hope you don’t have to have pins in your eyes and heavy metal music 😉

  • 2. Searching  |  January 22, 2008 at 3:34 pm

    AMEN to that!!! We just had 3 babies in 2 days needing a code called on them at birth and although one was down too long the other two will be fine. At home no matter WHAT they had, they would have died. In the one case the mother would have died too. I’m glad your little one is alright- and that YOU are too!

  • 3. zana  |  January 22, 2008 at 3:46 pm

    Are you a CNM, Dr. or MW? I was just wondering where you saw so many issues at HB that could not be taken care of by the MW? Interesting. I wonder about these things too. I think if there is a skilled person around who knows what they are doing, most of the time it can be handled at home, and I mean one out of fifty may benefit from going to a ER to get something looked at. But even then I think most of the time it is some thing to do with risking out the situation.

    I think with good care prenatally most mothers and babies do fine in birth. It is not about the experience as much as it is about the affects of mother and child from drugs and procedures done to them. The experience comes from the inside. If you find you need the peace and quiet to focus inward to labor and birth, then you more likely will benefit from staying home as long as possible before going into a place where they poke and prod and stick needles in while you are doing a very intense action as in labor…

    The problem with just bringing home a live baby mentality is that yes, maybe a baby will be seemingly fine after being drugs, pulled out by forceps or traumatized unecessarily, how would you know the difference in that baby and one who did not have that trauma…would they end up with after effects for life? It is not up to us to play God here. “Just in case” is relative. I knew a couple who said exactly the same thing, “we want to feel safe, just in case.” So they had their hospital birth and the baby died. Of course they did all they could and tried to save him, but couldn’t, even with all the fancy machinery and drugs and staff etc…He still died and that was their reason for birthing in the hospital so they would bring hoem a live baby. Well, I am sorry but that is kind of assuming that everyone else will do it for you. That you or your baby will be saved by an outside force. I really feel if you want to create a child it is your responsibility to care for that child, from conception on. And birth is a part of that care. I can’t understand why anyone woudl allow strangers to pull on yoru baby’s head, poke drugs with needles into your baby, keeping the baby away from the birth mother when all they want is to hold and nurse the baby…These are complete strangers basically coming into your world and messing with your baby, and you allow that willingly. Would anyone let some stranger come into their home and drug and pull their baby’s head out of wack? Lets think about this…

    It is your creation and responsibility to make sure you are eating well, taking walks each day, doing your preparations, preventions for a healthy child. No one else can sit with you 24/7 and make you care for your baby, only you can decide to or not. That is the difference in mentality of having a child to begin with. If your not ready to give that energy into a human being then stop now!It is a lot of work.

    It sounds like you would benefit from a hospital birth, maybe with an alternative doula or someone to be objective. I have attended HB for 20 years. I have had one child 19 years ago. I planned to do a HB without anyone present, not even my CNM. I ended up going to her clinic at the last hour of labor. My dh was freaking out. I had no issues, no worries about the baby or birth, but about him. I actually kicked the mw out and she came back in the last minute and just told me to reach down and get my baby! SO I did. No issues. Except them trying to take him away from me, feed him a bottle and do testing on him…Those were the reasons why I did not want to be in an institution to give birth.

    I think after so many years of teaching and supporting women in birth situations it is more the emotional and psychological issues that get in the way. The body if taken care of most likely will produce a healthy baby even during a rough birth. The HB I have seen most of the time have none of these issues you are worried about. But a skilled midwife can handle most of them if they were to happen. Most likely in a hospital if you are in there to long in labor they will create issues by simply interfering in your natural process. I have seen this happen over and over.

    I have witnessed around four hundred births with no deaths of either mother or child. Four out of those four hundred ended up with c-sections, none emergency ones. I have seen three breeches born at home, one set so far of twins, women who have had one or more c-sections have wonderful births for their next child… The risk is much lower if you have preventive care, which is not necessarily a Dr. forte. Even with so called ‘high risk’ situations you may benefit more from a non interventive environment to give birth in. Home is the best place to begin. If there is an issue or you feel like you need more attention then go to the hospital.

    The midwives i know practice prevention. After so many years and seeing so many lovely experiences, very few issues, I would have to say that it would be wise to think least is best for your birth.

    As far as the infertility there are natural remedies that could possibly help. Ayurvedic herbs is one way in conjunction with acupuncture. I have a few friends who are in their forties and have recently had babies. They seem to have all had their bouts of infertility and used natural remedies and did well with them…I wish you much love and blessings on your journey!

  • 4. mamaloo  |  January 22, 2008 at 8:18 pm

    “Shoulder dystocia, breech, footling, cord wrapped around the neck, meconium in the lungs, preeclampsia, hemouraging”

    What happens at the hospital in these instances? How long do you think it takes an operating room to be prepped, the team to be assembled, the mother to be prepped…? Probably as long as transport takes.

    Real tragedy in either homebirth or hospital birth are fairly rare. Generally, in a homebirth situation, just as with a hospital birth situation, there are indications that baby or mother are having problems and help is gotten in good time.

    And, contrary to your asserting otherwise, studies have shown that the risks of mortality and morbidity are approximately equal, with homebirth slightly edging out hospital birth for better outcomes for low risk women.

    If hospital birth is what you trust and desire, that’s wonderful and amazing. I don’t see how vilifying those who feel otherwise will accomplish anything except make you feel superior to someone. That’s a need that would better be discussed with a therapist.

  • 5. findinghope  |  January 22, 2008 at 8:48 pm

    I knew this post was going to attract some homebirth advocates, and that is fine, but I will say my feelings on this have been formed by reading many, many studies, papers, arguments on both sides, etc.

    I am not prepared to “debate” the topic – I simply needed to voice my own feelings on the subject (on my own blog).

    mamaloo – there are so many things wrong with your assertions I don’t even know where to start. And your comment was unnecessarily rude, suggesting I need to see a therapist for my stance on homebirth. really? attacking me personally for my views on homebirth isn’t going to save any lives, my dear.

    zana – thank you for your thought-provoking, constructive comment – I appreciate that while we differ in our views, you were able to remain polite and respectful.

  • 6. fitnesschick  |  January 24, 2008 at 2:56 am

    Speaking from personal experience I would have to agree that birthing in a hospital is the way to go. I was very healthy and took very good care of myself and my baby to be during pregnancy. (I am a fitness instructor and was teaching class two days before giving birth) So please don’t say that nothing can go wrong if you take care of yourself during pregnancy. I wound up having an emergency c-section and full blown HELLP Syndrome. My daughter was born at 35 weeks, 3lbs 15oz. and I was very close to dying from a ruptured liver. So, without proper medical attention, neither of us would be here today. My doctor told me it was a rare case of sudden onset preeclampsia, I was in the doctors office two days before for my checkup and everything was normal. The HELLP Syndrome was not detected until a few hours after the birth and had I been at home, I would have died. I for one am very thankful for modern hospitals and medication. This is just my own personal opinion and experience, that doesn’t mean I think people who choose home birth are wrong, I just think that too much could go wrong.

  • 7. Alisha  |  January 25, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    I think ones opinion would quickly change if baby and mommy were placed in a life threatening situation.
    I’m right behind you J!

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