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Birth at home

September 13, 2011

A friend noted that a few posts ago, I casually mentioned planning a homebirth. It’s true. I feel almost casual about it at this point because it feels so right, though I did have some apprehension about declaring my decision to the world. Most women in the U.S. give birth in a hospital with an OB-GYN. A much smaller percentage do so with a midwife, and a still smaller percentage do so with a midwife at home. Yet after much reading and film watching, I came to the conclusion that I did not want a hospital birth experience.

Typical hospital birth seems too often rife with unnecessary interventions that can cause further interventions, and a very high c-section rate. I do not want to be cut. A c-section is major abdominal surgery, and although it is fairly safe, it is not without complications, not to mention a long recovery. It also strikes me as odd to avoid all these foods and chemicals for nine months only to pump your body full of drugs during labor. Those drugs pass through the placenta. I understand that surgery is sometimes necessary, and that sometimes painkillers are, too. I just don’t want to start from a place of assuming that induction and an epidural is the best course of action. Pregnancy is not  a disease.

I consider myself a pretty sturdy gal. In high school one season, I ran cross country for weeks with stress fractures in both of my shins. I can do real push-ups. I have endurance, and labor is all about stamina. I have been healthy all my life. I am pretty sure I can endure labor. When you know there is an end point, particularly one that involves meeting your kid for the first time, I think anything is bearable.

Being adopted left me disconnected from my own birth story, so that makes me particularly interested in staying fully involved in this birth. I want to be present and part of the decision-making. I want to know what’s going on. I want to feel supported, not bullied or pressured. I feel the best way to achieve this is with a midwife, and to give birth at home. I can’t think of a more fantastic way to spend the first few hours with my new baby than in the comfort of my own bed. No worrying about getting to the hospital in time or laboring in a taxi. No roommates. No hospital smell. No white coat syndrome. No reminders everywhere of all the bad stuff that could happen at any moment. No adhering to 9-5 timetables. No scary germs.

I would rather not risk it. Some would question not having the option of drugs or surgery close at hand, but the options will be there if I really need them. Except in the case of a true emergency, which I hear at times cannot even be helped by being in a hospital, I will be able to be transferred to a facility staffed by midwives for nonemergency situations, or to a hospital with an OR that is blocks away. Kimm will bring oxygen, and will check for fetal distress, good responsiveness after the birth, and a complete delivery of the placenta. She will not deliver breech, or any other high-risk situation. She will monitor for diabetes and high blood pressure. She will ask us to pack a just-in-case bag. She will scope out which facilities are our best options for the various circumstances that could arise. I feel confident that she has the experience and wisdom to know when a transfer is necessary, and if we encounter one of those true tragic emergencies, we will face it with the same attitude as waiting to find out the sex, and not screening for genetic disorders. We will take it as it comes.

Ultimately, every woman has the right to birth however she wants. That’s why my insurance company is required to provide care. They have to. CNMs and homebirths are legal in New York. Given the statistics about our maternal and infant mortality rates, it seems like there’s something wrong with our system. Many women in other countries give birth at home with midwives with better outcomes. As I approach the midpoint, all of this seems to fade into the background. When I was first confronted with the decision about where to labor and birth, I was very passionate about advocating for myself and finding the provider that was right. Now that all of that is settled, I feel I can enjoy myself and not dwell on the details. The broad strokes are in place, and the other stuff will work itself out. I am healthy, low-risk, I feel good about my decision, and I will do my damnedest to be prepared. I trust my midwife, and I trust my body.

I also trust my birth companions. I have asked my mom and my mother-in-law to be there with us. I never thought I would want anyone else besides my husband and my caregiver there, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I really want people I know and love to know my child’s birth story. My own is such a mystery. I hope it will be a wonderful experience for us all.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Julia Bates permalink
    September 17, 2011 2:37 pm

    No matter what happens—it will be a miracle!!! Jb

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