My philosophy of childbirth is ever evolving. For me, I believe birth is a natural, normal process and I choose to avoid intervention unless it is necessary. I believe a healthy diet and screening measures (GBS testing, for example) are both important during pregnancy. I believe there is a balance between over-medicalizing pregnancy/birth and being too “hands off” - and I believe that being too extreme in either direction can be dangerous. I believe our views of birth are extremely personal – shaped by life experiences, cultural influences and many other factors. I do not believe there is one right way to birth, feed or parent children.
I decided rather early on in my first pregnancy that I wanted to avoid interventions and have a medication-free birth. Because of the people in my life at the time, I was led to believe the best place for me to make that happen would be at home... so that's what we wanted. We hoped and planned for a home birth. We had chosen a midwife. I immersed myself in the world of learning about home birth and childbirth... reading books and articles, watching films... it became my passion. That is also when I decided I wanted to become a doula and childbirth educator.
Our insurance company wouldn't cover our home birth but covered 100% in hospital. I fought them relentlessly throughout my pregnancy but they wouldn’t budge. We were devastated – well, mostly me. I had to prepare for a hospital birth.
As much as I wanted to hate it, it was hard to do as our hospital birth was a really good experience. Our boy arrived healthy. I had a spontaneous, unmedicated birth as I had hoped and our baby never left our arms after he was born. My postpartum hemorrhage was dealt with quickly and carefully. The nurses and lactation consultants helped me deal with my son's jaundice and his ineffective/lazy sucking ability and he went on to nurse for over two years. The pediatrician gave him his newborn exam while I laid in bed. I can appreciate now, looking back, how truly lovely it all was, to be taken so well care of by so many, without having to leave our hospital room.
Not long after our son was born, we switched insurance companies. Everything was all set for us to have our future babies at home. And that’s when things started to come up that really made me question my home birth advocacy.
I came to discover that home birth in our country is very different than home birth in other first world countries. Our home birth midwives (CPMs and LMs) are not like midwives in other first world countries, they don't need to carry malpractice insurance and their training/education requirements are very limited... some do not even have high school diplomas and were certified after only attending 40 births. The big kicker for me was that they don't have the good outcomes / mortality rates as I thought. I realized there is so much context left out when using maternal mortality rates and infant mortality rates as a way to scare women away from hospitals, as is often the case in the home birth community.
I came to realize so much of what I believed about home birth safety was based on misleading information. There was more to the story that I didn't know... and it was information that was hard to find. It wasn't shared in the books or articles I was reading. It wasn't in the films I was watching.
And that’s how I found myself traveling down this road. Am I anti-home birth? No. Not at all. But I am anti-misinformation and pro-informed consent. Just as I want women to understand the true, unbiased information regarding cesarean section versus vaginal birth, I want women to have true, unbiased information regarding home birth versus hospital birth (as it pertains specifically to women giving birth in the USA).
I'm looking forward to elaborating on these issues here with my posts on babyMed. I hope we can have some good, productive discussions. Thank you for reading and please feel free to comment on any of my points, even if you do not agree! I'm always open to reading / hearing another point-of-view.