If I'd Had a Home Birth

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Birth planI sometimes wonder what my feelings about home birth would be now if we had gone through with our home birth plans.

Or if I, as a doula, was never a part of a terrifying home birth, of a low risk mother, that turned into an emergency hospital transfer. And if it hadn't happened at the time in my life when it did.

I wonder how would I react to all of the latest research that shows the increase risk to babies born at home? How would I react to stories of loss? How would I react to my own blog posts?

I think I know. I reflect on my life back then... I read my old Facebook posts, I look at my book case covered in Ina May Gaskin, Sarah Buckley, Penny Simkin and the like, I thumb through my "Doula and Midwife" file in our filing cabinet, and I can take a guess at how I'd react…

I’d likely dismiss the home birth loss stories. In fact, at first I did, even though they made me sob and even though I was already starting to turn the corner away from home birth… I remember having that “that wouldn’t have happened to me” feeling (a.k.a. denial). So if we’d actually had our home births, I can imagine I’d probably justify my feelings and choices with statements like “my midwife would never do that” or “that mother just didn’t trust birth enough” or “that mother didn’t research enough and didn’t choose the right midwife.” I see that’s how many home birth mothers react when they read about a home birth loss. I doubt I’d be any different.

I’d probably dismiss the statistics. I’d find a way to disregard any study that didn’t tell me what I’d want to hear: home birth is safer than hospital birth. Even with cold, hard data staring me in my face that stated otherwise, I’d probably find a way to convince myself that it’s wrong.

I'd dismiss me. I’d dismiss my blog posts.

I'd dismiss all of it. I'd probably feel like I wouldn't have any other choice.

Because the cognitive dissonance would be too overwhelming.

Part of the reason I started to write about home birth was because I felt the message needed to be shared by someone who wanted home births for her own babies. I'm a birth doula. I've attended home births. Home birth moms would be able to relate to me. I believed I'd help empower people by helping them sort through the misinformation. Because there is so much misinformation in the home birth world.

But it hasn't always worked out that way. It often doesn't matter if someone may be able to relate to me, I'm offering information that contradicts what becomes an ideology for many and that can feel like a personal attack. I've been there, to an extent. I know how hard it is.

The bottom line, though, is this: I don't want anyone (else) to find out the hard way how broken our home birth system is. My friend, Sara Snyder, whose baby died a preventable death during her home birth, said it best:

"I still believe truth prevails. In the case of out-of-hospital birth, it's truth I wish I had known many years ago. It's truth I lived and still live with every day. It's a truth that I don't wish upon any mother or baby. The truth about home birth in the US is that it is not nearly as safe as it could be, not nearly as safe as any other first world country."

If I had chosen home birth… I hope eventually I would have seen that people who want improvements in our home birth system are actually on my side.

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