I have my babies at home.
So often when I tell people that, it feels like I’ve marched in with my pet unicorn and we’ve started waltzing around the room to MC Hammer’s 2Legit.
It’s awkward is what I’m trying to say and I’m not sure why. I’m not a hippie. I’m not Amish. I didn’t forget to go to the hospital in time. I’m merely an educated woman who examined her options and decided home birth was the best choice for me and my baby. I don’t feel that there is anything extreme or crazy about my choice.To me, it is the current state of obstetrics in this country that is crazy. I could cite statistics on maternal health and induction rates. I could talk about the risks of certain drugs and their side effects but I don’t really need to do any of that. All you need to know is that the current cesarean section rate in the United States is approaching 37%. Thirty-seven percent.
You don’t need a degree in public health to know that something bad is wrong if one out of every three births ends in cesarean section. However, in my experience, people talk about the c-section rate like they do about Congress. They hate Congress but keep voting for their Congressman. Everyone thinks the rate is too high but then will go into great detail as to why their particular c-section was needed. Of course, the hard truth is that you don’t get to 37% without a large number of women getting c-sections they did not need.
Avoiding an unnecessary c-section was a huge reason I chose home birth but it was not the only one. Long before I decided to get pregnant, I noticed that all of my friends talked about giving birth as if they had survived a war. They spoke of unbearable pain, long hours spent suffering in a hospital bed, traumatic deliveries, horrible complications, and painful recoveries. On what was supposed to be one of the most beautiful days of a woman’s life, the emotions dripping from their voices were fear, sadness, even anger. Most importantly, they all had a long list of warnings for me—ways to just “get through it” until I had the baby in my arms.
Thanks to a college professor who somehow squeezed natural birth theories into a religion class, I had read enough about birth to know that this was not the way it had to be. I wanted to be empowered by my birth. Click to tweet. I wanted to allow my body to do what it was designed to do. I wanted the whole experience to be a positive one—from the first contraction to the first days of his life. And the closer I got to my due date, the more I realized that experience would not be possible for me in a hospital.
Maybe it’s because I’m an only child. Maybe it’s because I’m Type A. But I like the focus to be on me and I like to be in control and that just wasn’t going to happen in a hospital. I love that my midwife was by my side from the first contractions until I was showered and ready to fall asleep hours after birth with Griffin tucked by my side. She wasn’t thinking about other patients, hospital policy, shifts, or exposure to liability. Her one and only concern was me and my baby. I love that I was allowed to eat what I wanted, move where I wanted, do what I wanted in a safe environment that I knew like the back of my hand. There was no fighting about IVs I didn’t want or declining repeated offers of an epidural. And I gave birth squatting beside the bed, not flat on my back—a position I had abandoned early on because Griffin’s heart rate would drop and it was excruciating for me.
So, I know what you’re going to say next. It’s what everyone says — what if something had gone wrong? First, let me assure you, this isn’t Gone With The Wind. My midwife didn’t just show up with a knife to cut the pain in two. She had oxygen and medical supplies and an assistant in case she needed to attend to the baby or me only. She was also a former neonatal nurse and had already caught (midwives catch babies, mothers deliver them) over 300 babies at that point. Not to mention, I live about 5 minutes from the hospital if you’re driving slow. So, there were multiple precautions taken. However, what always bugs me about that question is I feel like the underlying assumption is that nothing can go wrong in a hospital. Birth is an inherently risky endeavor and giving birth in a hospital does not protect you from that risk. In reality, it can expose you to a great number of risks all its own. (Hello! Remember the lady on Oprah who went to the hospital to have a baby and left with only one arm!?! Because I sure as heck do.)
I say all that to say this. Home birth is not an extreme choice. I’m not crazy. I didn’t just get lucky. It is a realistic option every pregnant woman should really explore on her own. The birth of your child is one of the most important days of your life and it should be a day you enjoy and truly experience — not merely survive.
Plus, my son was 9 lbs 7 oz. If I can do it, anyone can.
Home Birth and Natural Birth Resources
The Business of Being Born This film should be required viewing. Period. For everyone, but particularly pregnant women. Even if you know you want a hospital birth, still watch this film. I also recommend the My Best Birth website and book from the creators of the film.
Ina May's Guide to Childbirth Full disclosure: Ina May actually is a hippie but she's awesome! In 1971, she founded The Farm - one of the first out of hospital birth centers in the nation and is known as the mother of authentic midwifery. She's been delivering babies for over 40 years and she knows her stuff.
Birthing From Within A holistic approach to birth that supports the mother and promotes natural birth. If you can take the Birthing From Within class, do! If not, the book is also amazing.
This post was originally published on Salt & Nectar.